back to article Mobe and Wi-Fi firms flog your location data to commercial firms, claim reports

Two reports by privacy campaigners into mobile and Wi-Fi services' location tracking activities have revealed practices of questionable legality and security. The studies found that “at best, companies are fulfilling the minimal legal requirements, and at worst could breaking the law and breaching our right to privacy.” The …

  1. James 51

    Vodafone seems to come out of this less damaged than the other telecoms firms. It's a pity that there isn't an effective way to kill this sort of thing deader than disco.

    1. Alexander J. Martin

      Disco's dead? When did that happen?

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Yet the Opt Me Out site says that you have to opt out of tracking for Vodafone, not opt in.

      Call 191 or 03333 040 191 to opt out of marketing including location based marketing and text OPT OUT to 68808 to be removed from their location analytics only

      Somebody's wrong somewhere, and it's probably not the Opt Me Out site.

    3. IsJustabloke

      There is no circumstance when Vodashite look good.

    4. paulf

      I think the responses from Three (refuse to comment) and EE (can't be bothered) are quite telling. Perhaps the researcher wasn't able to get through to someone at EE (join the very large club!).

      At least Voda and O2 bothered to dig up a spokesdroid each to put forward the usual "Legalese Manglement babble"; designed to reassure while offering no actual reassurance.

  2. Only me!

    Blood suckers

    They are all blood suckers......Facebook, Twitter, enter a random app name, etc.

    Why the surprise about the mobile and wifi networks?

    You should have a choice to opt out and they should not have a choice in saying you cannot!

    Putting terms and conditions on and saying you agree, tick this box. Just does not cut it in my book.

    The business models/cashflow are as good as your local law firms guys can make them, as long as you live in Panama.

    1. IsJustabloke

      Re: Blood suckers

      "You should have a choice to opt IN and they should not have a choice in saying you CAN / cannot!"


    2. Cuddles

      Re: Blood suckers

      "They are all blood suckers......Facebook, Twitter, enter a random app name, etc.

      Why the surprise about the mobile and wifi networks?"

      Because "random app names" generally make their money from advertising, so it's hardly surprising that they would be interested in this sort of data. Mobile phone providers, on the other hand, are supposed to make their money from selling you a mobile phone service, and have absolutely no reason to be gathering and selling data not directly related to that. Surprise is probably not the right word, since you have to be rather naive not to expect this kind of shit these days, but it's understandable that people would be somewhat miffed to find out that a paid service provider is abusing their position to make a bit of cash on the side, while not being quite so miffed that a free service provided by an advertising company makes its money from advertising.

  3. TeeCee Gold badge


    The only slightly surprising information here is that there would appear to be two Departments of Stating the Bleedin' Obvious, producing independent reports.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "would appear to be two Departments of Stating the Bleedin' Obvious"

      With no one in 'politricks' reading either study...

  4. Nifty Silver badge

    Mobile and WiFi firms *don't* flog my location and demographics.

    Now *that* would be news.

  5. Da Weezil

    It was amusing to hear the confusion from 2 ee reps I talked with this morning after reading the ORG email I had last night. My request to be opted out from both location and traffic analytics really had them stumped, the "overseas" call centre connected me with some Irish Dude who had been given the impression I had problems with web browsing, but in all fairness he listened to the points, and seemed to understand what I was asking - but clearly ee have no system in place for dealing with this request and I am awaiting a call.

    It is time we took back control of our privacy. this is just one small step.

  6. PaulAb

    Utterly disgaceful behaviour..

    I can barely speak I'm so outraged.

    Rt. Hon. Theresa May

  7. ma1010

    Space travel is the solution

    Looking at that complex diagram gives me the feeling there are a lot of people involved in all this cell phone tracking/advertising/etc.

    I think it's time to build the "B Ark" (with apologies to Douglas Adams) and put all these folks aboard. I know we don't have interstellar travel working yet, but we could just shoot it into the sun, which would work well enough. Being rid of these buggers would be worth every penny it cost, too.

    1. captain veg Silver badge

      Re: Space travel is the solution

      But then you'd end up being wiped out by a virulent disease contracted from a dirty telephone.


      1. Vic

        Re: Space travel is the solution

        But then you'd end up being wiped out by a virulent disease contracted from a dirty telephone.

        Frankly, that's a price worth paying...


  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Notice the weasel word "individual" in O2's statement.

    Do they sell -aggregated- customer location details? My strong suspicion is they do. Why the fuck can't companies just content themselves with charging a customer for a service and then delivering that service, without trying to monetise the living shit out of them to wring out every last penny with these sleazy deals.

    1. Ian Michael Gumby

      Re: Bastards

      Last time I checked... these operators are here to make money.

      Monetizing subscriber data defrays the cost of providing service and should allow them to make money while staying competitive.

      That said, they need to be careful what data they sell off.

      Telcos have a legitimate need to track your phone and its movements. However.. that doesn't mean that they should be allowed to sell the data off to third party services. And you can't opt out or move to a different service provider unless the laws change. Everyone is doing it and only doing the minimum.

      If you started to fine them like the US fined HSBC... they might start to take data privacy and protection more seriously.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I guess I'm safe for now

    Wi-Fi off - check!

    Location off - check!

    Using no apps - check!

    No internet on my mobile (poor eyesight is normal at my age) - check!

    Of course my mobile provider knows my location and they can sell it but it will be a fraud since ads can not reach me. Oh, and to make sure they can not even try, I'm paying for 150MB of data per month (bloody bastards did not want to sell me the phone without data plan).

    1. Richard Jones 1

      Re: I guess I'm safe for now

      I have no data plan on my phone. I did get a 'feature phone' at the last renewal, it could not do what I wanted or needed, also it was touch based bah useless. I passed it on to a relation and went back to the old 2G phone which suits me fine. There was another screw up with plan so they deleted the unwanted data and added something slightly useful, success. Tracking my movements might be a mess, half the time I have no service at home so that must really help them understand me, not!

      But like you, no location device other than cell site triangulation and no apps, whatever fluff they are.

  10. Mikel

    Tinfoil hat

    Protects me from location snooping, if I put the phone under it.

    As does the obvious "leave the tracking device behind when you're up to no good".

    But of course that makes Navi out of the question, and the pay phones all seem to have been removed.

  11. Terry 6 Silver badge

    By the way

    When did this term "high net worth" start appearing instead of good old fashioned "stinking rich"?

    1. Mikel

      Re: By the way

      Let's not be insensitive. "Stinking Rich" is a euphemism with negative stereotypes that encourages oppression of the poverty impaired sufferer of affluenza, either acute or chronic.

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