back to article Mobile operators combine to flog customer data

The UK's mobile operators have agreed to pool and sell customer data in an attempt to stimulate the mobile advertising sector. Announcing the move at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the GSM Association, whose members include 3, O2, Orange, T-Mobile and Vodafone, said it had created a "measurement process for mobile …


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  1. Mark Daniels
    Thumb Down

    Opt in, or Out.....

    .... and I assume, thetre is a slice for the user asd it is, after all, the users information that the networks are touting.

    In fact, the Networks should be paying for this information in the forst place, not just assuming that they own by defualt.


  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No True Anonymity

    Unfortunately I don't think ISPs or governments are inclined to protect people's privacy, there's too much money to be made & too much data to be collected for fighting crime. I suspect most people probably don't know & don't care about it anyway. Rather for those who do care about their privacy it's up to us as individuals to do something. Perhaps it means not going over to mobile broadband. Perhaps consider using Tor (not sure if it's actually secure from eavesdropping & if it works well on mobile broadband).

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And #1 on the list is


  4. Matt


    is this not wiretapping in the same way as Phorm?

    I pay them to transmit my data, not look at it.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    Is there no getting away from this crap?

  6. Alex
    Thumb Down

    I'll stand by and do nothing whilst... privacy gets spitraped by BT & T-mobile then!

    It seems the concept of privacy is an unnecessary hindrance to all but the few, what has happened here?

    Someone said that the UK was "sleepwalking into a surveillance society" well fuck me, it seems like we've developed a liking for the taste of sugar coated Rohyphnol!

    If there's hope it lays with...

    ..nah bugger it, we're screwed!

  7. anonymous sms

    GMSA Mobile Phone = Mobile 'Phorm' = spam/scam

    It's what you can buy when you pay New Labour £22.5b for the public operating licenses.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Re: Phorm?

    It is a different outfit, but none the less the effect is the same. The difference between it and Phorm is that the tech has some dubious benefits.

    If mobile Cos were not "simplifying" all images in web pages nobody would have been using 3G. This is how bad it is actually.

    Just try to browse the web off a mobile device using a default route down a VPN or a https based proxy and you will see what I mean.

    So while I hate lowlife and I hate mobile Cos assumption that B&D is the perfect relationship in this particular case I will probably avoid screaming too loud while being ad-bang-ed.

  9. James

    .. communities ???


    The quote "and provides rich planning information for the media and advertising communities."

    Another load of bullshit from the advertising media INDUSTRY. These are NOT, REPEAT, NOT communities. They are money greedy INDUSTRIES just like the Banking industry that has created the huge level of unemployment, business closures and bankruptcies.

    A community is a small village or town where people live - it is NOT an organisation or group of organisations expressly set-up to make as much money as possible.


  10. dervheid

    Oh fecking joy!

    Yet MORE unsolicited fecking texts.

    Oi! C**ts!

    We PAY you to provide us with a service, NOT to whore our activity history to the fecking highest bidder.

    Or yer mates.

    Feck Off!

  11. druck Silver badge


    Right that's the last time I use the web directly from a mobile, vpn back to my home server and fuck the lot of em.

  12. Anonymous Coward


    ....You already said what I was just about to say - isn't this Phorm Mobile??


    Service Providers in this country are turning from reputable organisations into pimps.

  13. Britt Johnston

    Give-away era - don't fight the inevitable

    The phones are given away, along with holders' rights. These providers have to make some kind of net 2.0 living, after all.

    If they tried a bit harder - say, add fingerprint security and GPS tracking - free phones could be used as ID cards. Next up, make it illegal not to carry one.


    No way.

    Not who I communicate to.

    Not who communicate with me.

    Not what that communication contains.

    And not where I am.

    No. Absolutely no bloody way.

    People must be locked up for this.

  15. Mark Daniels
    Thumb Down

    @ By Britt Johnston

    The fact that the 'phones are given away does not mean that they are not purchased : they are just purchased for a zero value. And, not everyone get their devices from the Net Ops : I for one buy my 'phone and get a service secondly. It is my phone, I'll biuy the one I want, rather than being hood winked into their purchase : If I want Phone xxxx i'll buy phone xxxx.

  16. Nebulo
    Thumb Down

    It's a funny thing

    how *everyone* who uses the phrase "respects the privacy of ... " means precisely the same thing, namely, "completely disregards the privacy of ...". And how their "respect" is always generally meretricious in nature.

  17. Mike Dierken

    Metrics .vs. targeting

    I didn’t see any mention in the GSMA announcement of data being sold, pooled or otherwise made available - (

    It looks like they are simply trying to provide statistics similar to what is provided by ComScore and Quantcast, but organized around mobile access rather than direct access. Just like when uses Google Analytics to determine who is visiting which pages and for how long, etc..

    What did you find that showed the availability of data more detailed than “[...] popular sites, ranked by number of visitors, page impressions, time and duration of visits.”?

  18. Steve Roper

    It depends on the data

    There's nothing wrong with a search service aggregating data for statistical analysis - if they provide a service, it's fair enough to get something back for it. An example of aggregated statistical data might be something like:

    Search term: "latest sci-fi films"

    Age 10-18: Males 8%, Females 3%

    Age 18-25: Males 14%, Females 9%

    Age 25-35: Males 19%, Females 13%


    From this, promoters of sci-fi films could determine that the best target demographic to punt their latest special-effects extravaganza to might be the 25-35 males group. They would then tell the search engine "Show our ads to this group" and everyone registered in that demographic would then get the ads. At no point does the advertiser or the search service know anything about who in particular searches what in the search service's customer base; and that's not an invasion of privacy.

    What IS an invasion of privacy is when the data is targetable by user, like this:

    Customer No. 1234567 searches:

    "latest sci-fi films": 45 times

    "wow fan art": 23 times

    "sandra bullock images": 17 times


    This kind of data is what allows "profiling"; it allows the search service to build an image of the sort of person I am and what I'm into. It doesn't matter whether it's stored as "Steve Roper" or "Customer 1234567", it's still a personal profile - and that "1234567" is no doubt an index linked to my name anyway. Now I hold that if you want to get to know me on that personal a level, you can damn well do it to my face and with me having a quid-pro-quo chance to learn about you too. Certainly it may be useful to me to have the search service store my history (which I do with Google - it's interesting to go back and see what you were searching for a year ago), but the moment they start using it to create manipulative advertising designed psychologically to exploit my weaknesses I draw the line. That's why my immediate reaction to any unsolicited advertising that addresses me by name, or appears to source information from a profile of my interests (and that's not hard to ascertain!), is never to do business with that company again, and to let them know that in no uncertain terms.

    So whether this plane by the mobile companies is right or wrong depends on how they are aggregating the data. Demographics, ok. Profiling - NO.

  19. dervheid

    Depends on the service!

    "There's nothing wrong with a search service aggregating data for statistical analysis - if they provide a service, it's fair enough to get something back for it"

    Which is fair enough.

    But we're not talking about a search service here.;

    "The UK's mobile operators have agreed to pool and sell customer data in an attempt to stimulate the mobile advertising sector."

    They are "get(ting) something back for it", they're being paid to provide a mobile telephony service, be that voice, data or a combination of both. They should NOT be allowed to whore our activity history around without our express permission. Or without some recompense to the users whose stats they're whoring.

    The same principle applies, IMHO, to fixed line services. )BT, Phorm, I'm looking at you!)

    If you want my data / usage stats, call it what you like, for a service I'm PAYING YOU FOR, have the fucking common courtesy to ask my permission first.

    I might let you have it.

    But At A Price!!

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Web Analytics Manager

    There is a vast difference between what GSMA doing and Phorm. Phorm is aggregating data for targeted advertising. In other words, it leverages the information it gathers about an anonymous user to deliver ads to that anonymous user. In other words, the "anonimity" does not protect the user from seeing ads targeted on the basis of his/her behavoior.The GSMA delivers aggregate stats such as 32% of mobile users use maps, and 21% use Google maps. This is used to understand aggregate usage patterns on the web, and help size audiences using mobile web properties. No data about the user is used to target any advertising. This is no differnt than TV ratings or web ratings services which have been around for ages.

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