After an almost mind-boggling number of security and privacy issues that have deluged into our lives over the past handful of years, you'd think that companies would begin to take their customers' private data seriously. Still, there are some who just don't seem to "get it", and apparently, OnePlus has proven to be one of these late bloomers.
Earlier this week, we wrote of security researcher Chris Moore, who discovered data that was being sent to OnePlus' Amazon AWS instances without permission, and without an option to turn it off. While much (or perhaps all) of the data that was transmitted is pretty simple in the grand scheme of things, personal user information is tied to it. Offering no way to turn this feature off is bad enough in itself; OnePlus could have made things a lot better if that data was at least encrypted and anonymized. However, this was not the case in this instance.
Customers should never have to settle with default spying
To its credit, the company didn't take long to respond and reassure its customers that it takes their data seriously. The man to deliver the message is a familiar sight on OnePlus' forums: company co-founder, Carl Pei. Unfortunately, more questions are raised than are answered.
One thing Carl said is that OnePlus will "no longer be collecting telephone numbers, MAC Addresses and WiFi information." In most contexts, that's a weird change, because such information shouldn't have been collected in the first place. Users are now wondering what OnePlus could possibly glean from something like a MAC address, or Wi-Fi AP. He goes on to say that the reason OnePlus collects information is to 'provide after-sales support', but again, one would think only a serial number would be required for that.
Carl wraps up to say that all OnePlus phones running OxygenOS will receive an update by the end of this month that will begin asking them if they want to join the User Experience Program from the get-go (but only on refresh reset). Oddly, to remove yourself from this data-collecting right now, you must hit up the Advanced section in Android settings, and then enable (yes... enable) the option for the User Experience Program (seen above in its disabled state). Doing so will anonymize the data that's collected, so if you were already enabled for that, you can consider yourself unscathed.