The latest mis-step from OnePlus occurred a few days ago, when a software engineer discovered that OxygenOS (the default ROM for OnePlus phones) was sending massive amounts of analytics data to the company. While many companies collect some amount of data to help fix bugs, OnePlus’ data collection was far more than necessary. Some of the information being sent to the company’s servers included the phone’s IMEI number, the phone number, MAC addresses, mobile network names and IMSI prefixes, Wi-Fi connection info, the phone’s serial number, and every app that was ever opened.
OnePlus responded to this by saying the data collection was optional, and that it could be disabled by going into the device’s settings. That still meant that vast amounts of data were being sent to OnePlus by default, and many users would never know about the switch to disable it. Now the company is taking additional steps, as OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei announced on the company’s forums.
Most of the post is re-iterating OnePlus’ previous public statement. The data is being collected for “better after-sales support,” and it isn’t shared with outside parties. Pei also explained that changes are coming to OxygenOS to make the collection opt-in:
By the end of October, all OnePlus phones running OxygenOS will have a prompt in the setup wizard that asks users if they want to join our user experience program. The setup wizard will clearly indicate that the program collects usage analytics. In addition, we will include a terms of service agreement that further explains our analytics collection. We would also like to share we will no longer be collecting telephone numbers, MAC Addresses and WiFi information.
I still can’t come up with a reason why OnePlus would need telephone numbers and Wi-Fi information in the first place, but at least it has stopped collecting that information. I hope OnePlus will allow users to delete info already uploaded from their devices, because as nice as this change is, it doesn’t do much for existing phone owners.