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On the LeadBolt opt page you can specify your IMEI number in order to opt out from their service:

The IMEI/MEID is a number, usually unique, to identify GSM, WCDMA, and iDEN mobile phones, as well as some satellite phones. It allows us to identify your device and ensure you are opted out from our services. Importantly, the IMEI/MEID is only used for identifying the device and has no permanent or semi-permanent relation to you as the subscriber protecting your privacy.

Is this safe? Would let me enjoy Android apps without annoying and invasive ads?

  • If your device is rooted, use Permission Fix to give fake IMEI to the app. And, this works for ads opt-out too. – Android Quesito Oct 14 '12 at 3:38
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I can't tell if LeadBolt does as promissed, but I see no harm in giving somebody your IMEI. At least if you don't use services that do authentication with your IMEI (never heard of one).

But you should wait a little, maybe there is a objection regarding my statement.

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  • An app developer has given me that link. I wrote to him because of the many ads in his application. Anyways thanks for you answer... – user34295 Oct 13 '12 at 13:40
  • It's dangerous to give other people your IMEI, it can be used to login into services like WhatsApp! – minicookie Nov 4 '12 at 20:56
  • Can you provide a reference for that claim? IMO WhatsApp authenticities with the Phone Number of the active SIM card and not the IMEI, although I am not 100% sure. – Flow Nov 5 '12 at 8:04
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    "At least if you don't use services that do authentication with your IMEI (never heard of one)." – I encountered one. When I had Xprivacy randomize IMEI for all apps on each call, I couldn't upload documents to my insurance. Contacted their support and finally was told I'd seem to use multiple devices for a single upload, which confused the heck out of their support… Admitted, using IMEI that way is very bad practice (in my case, the insurance number would do). But it happens. And no, I wouldn't give it to any 3rd party, as they can use it to track me and build a profile to sell. – Izzy Mar 28 '17 at 10:18
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If you don't mind rooting your device then your best option to avoid all adds would be to use Adaway. It'll bock all ads on your device by modifiying your hosts file and is perfectly safe to use. I've been using it for over a year now.

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Whether it's safe very much depends on what you count as „safe“. All that might resulting from giving LeadBolt your IMEI is that you won't be shown any ads by LeadBolt – but if you think that means „no ads at all“, you're completely mistaken. There are tons of other ad networks used by apps.¹ Some of them offer you the same way to „opt out“ by giving them your IMEI. Nevertheless, they'll continue collecting data on you, connecting it to your IMEI – which you now even explicitly give them (probably combined with some other data), to build a profile on you and maybe even sell it for money.

I'm currently writing an article on that topic (see below). My advice would be: Don't. That's the wrong way to act on ads. You should not „register“ your IMEI (or any other identifier) with a company to have it stop annoying you. Rather use other approaches to get rid of those annoying ads:

  • contact the developer of that app and tell him/her about the annoyance, asking to replace this ad provider by one less intrusive
  • if the app has a paid version that comes without ads², buy and use that. After all, the dev put hours or even months of work into the app, which should be honored
  • to find out what ad modules an app contains, check it out at AppBrain. Avoid apps which contain intrusive ad modules (compare e.g. with my list¹).
  • use an Ad Blocker. That's nothing dishonest in this context, it's pure self-protection considering several of those ad networks also ship „malvertising“ stuff, and what PII they collect on you without your consent or awareness. On Android, you don't need a so called „Anti-Virus“ solution, you need a good working „Anti-Ad“ protection.

For further reading I recommend you my article Android Identifiers: How Android devices and their users are identified. Hopefully the article I've mentioned above will be available at the same site at the end of this months, to give deeper insight on What´s it all about those modules apps contain? – i.e. ad and analytics stuff and how it intrudes our privacy.


¹ for some especially intrusive examples, see my listing here
² believe it or not, but about every seventh paid app ships with ad modules

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