Mobile Carriers Cashing In On Mining Your Data - InformationWeek
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Mobile // Mobile Business
Commentary
10/29/2015
04:06 PM
Larry Loeb
Larry Loeb
Commentary
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Mobile Carriers Cashing In On Mining Your Data

Some major mobile carriers are selling your data under the radar, and it's potentially worth $24.1 billion this year.

9 Ways To Bulletproof Your Privacy Policy
9 Ways To Bulletproof Your Privacy Policy
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Major cellphone carriers in the US and Asia have figured out that users' data is highly desired by marketers, making it worth potentially billions of dollars each year. They are cashing in -- unbeknownst to most of those users, according to a report in Advertising Age.

Mobile phone usage is tracked and monetized by Verizon, Sprint, Telefonica (as well as other global carriers) partnering with firms including SAP, IBM, HP, and AirSage that manage and package different levels of the collected data, the report notes.

And this Telecom-Data-as-a-Service (TDaaS) arena is paying off.

451 Research estimates that the global market for TDaaS is potentially worth $24.1 billion this year and is on its way to hit $79 billion in 2020.

Telcos are using this revenue stream to counter declining subscriber growth. By mining the data produced by cellphone users, the carriers can tie together location, mobile browser usage and call information into one data stream.

(Image: nikauforest/iStockphoto)

(Image: nikauforest/iStockphoto)

Then the telcos' partners package and sell the information. For example, SAP Consumer Insight 365 can analyze 300 cellphone events per day for each of the 20 million to 25 million mobile subscribers.

SAP, like most of the players testing the waters in the TDaaS arena, doesn't divulge the names of carriers providing this data or its client list.

As the Advertising Age report notes, "There is a lot of marketer interest in that information because it is tied to actual individuals. For the same reason, however, there is potential for resistance from privacy advocates."

SAP points out in the sales pitch for its service that marketers get a number of metrics out of this infostream, including data that determines "what consumer groups with a shared interest are using a Web site or app, how the use of a Web site or app varies over time, how often consumers visit one page versus another, which Web sites consumers go to before (or after) they visit yours, how all of the above varies by demographic."

[Read Global Data Collection Presents Big Challenges .]

Peter Eckersley, chief computer scientist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) told Advertising Age, "The practices that carriers have gotten into, the sheer volume of data and the promiscuity with which they're revealing their customers' data creates enormous risk for their businesses."

However, SAP says it has privacy controls built into its analysis process. It receives non-personally-identifiable, anonymized information from the telcos and then takes measures to provide only the aggregated information to clients to prevent re-identification of individuals.

Despite those measures, SAP is concentrating on selling its service in North America and the Asia-Pacific region because it can't get the data from telcos in the EU, where privacy protections are more stringent than elsewhere.

Larry Loeb has written for many of the last century's major "dead tree" computer magazines, having been, among other things, a consulting editor for BYTE magazine and senior editor for the launch of WebWeek. He has written a book on the Secure Electronic Transaction Internet ... View Full Bio
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Olivia Sanches
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Olivia Sanches,
User Rank: Strategist
3/1/2017 | 8:44:52 AM
Re: Mobile Carriers Cashing in On Mining Your Data
Indeed this phenomenon is also very used in France by the biggest telephone operator ORANGE, that is how the data mining begins. It is also possible to buy these kinds of lists.
zerox203
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zerox203,
User Rank: Ninja
11/6/2015 | 7:57:36 AM
Re: Mobile Carriers Cashing In On Mining Your Data
@Larry,

Oh yeah. The expression 'shoot first and ask questions later' rings very true here. There's no law that explicity says carriers can't do this with customer data, but there's certainly no precedent that they can either, and they're more than happy to occupy that grey area. Reminds me a lot of EULAs where, of course you could be agreeing to all sorts of ridiculous things, but it was accepted that nobody read them. EU courts eventually struck those down - I don't doubt if we'll see similar action against unsavory monitoring. For now, though, it's a legal wild west.
larryloeb
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larryloeb,
User Rank: Author
11/5/2015 | 1:49:58 PM
Re: Mobile Carriers Cashing In On Mining Your Data
It may not be a new concept, but just selling behavior of consumers without an opt-in doesnt pass the smell test.

It just seems like exploitation.
zerox203
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zerox203,
User Rank: Ninja
10/31/2015 | 5:20:42 PM
Re: Mobile Carriers Cashing In On Mining Your Data
@Mejiac, thanks for seeing my point, you put quite nicely exactly what I was trying to get at. Many people assume unsavory monitoring is already going on and act accordingly. Now we just know for sure it's going on (and it's not necessarily that unsavory). Look at WiFi monitoring in brick-and-mortar stores; they observe how much time you spend in the store, what areas interest you most, then when you check out they catalogue what you buy and maybe more about you, all under the most tenuous of consent (you use their free WiFi). People do justifiably raise some stinks about that, but it's not necessarily anything new.
mejiac
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mejiac,
User Rank: Ninja
10/31/2015 | 5:07:11 PM
Re: Mobile Carriers Cashing In On Mining Your Data
@zerox203,

I agree with your statement. Todays phones with virtual assistant already monitor our behavious, and make adjustement based on those tendency. So the data is being compiled and used by the phone manufacturers.

Now that services providers are tapping into this is not a surprise. In fact who's to say it hasn't been done. The data that's collected is golden, since it provides direct insight into consumer behaviour.

Thsi is the same as analysing what consumers purchase at a checkout.
mejiac
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mejiac,
User Rank: Ninja
10/31/2015 | 5:07:07 PM
Re: Mobile Carriers Cashing In On Mining Your Data
@zerox203,

I agree with your statement. Todays phones with virtual assistant already monitor our behavious, and make adjustement based on those tendency. So the data is being compiled and used by the phone manufacturers.

Now that services providers are tapping into this is not a surprise. In fact who's to say it hasn't been done. The data that's collected is golden, since it provides direct insight into consumer behaviour.

Thsi is the same as analysing what consumers purchase at a checkout.
larryloeb
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larryloeb,
User Rank: Author
10/31/2015 | 10:41:28 AM
Re: Mobile Carriers Cashing In On Mining Your Data
Yeah, that's what i thought and for the same reasons. 

The lack of transparency here is not good.

One yellow flag raised.
zerox203
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zerox203,
User Rank: Ninja
10/31/2015 | 6:17:25 AM
Re: Mobile Carriers Cashing In On Mining Your Data
@larry, good point. The main justification for letting all these apps snoop your contacts (and more) is, hey, it's completely voluntary and you get a free service (aka value) out of it. In the cell carriers case a) it's not really voluntary (you could drop your carrier in protest, but what if they're all doing it?) b) you're still paying quite a lot for the service (some could say they'll use the revenue to bolster their infrastructure, but that's suspect) & c) there's no upfront disclosure. I tend to agree with EU privacy notions, so it's definitely worth raising a yellow flag over.
larryloeb
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larryloeb,
User Rank: Author
10/30/2015 | 9:55:20 AM
Re: does the consumer have a recourse?
I don't know if there is an opt-out mechanism.

It would be done by the individual carrier, I think.
kstaron
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kstaron,
User Rank: Ninja
10/30/2015 | 9:33:21 AM
does the consumer have a recourse?
Is there the equivalent of a 'do not call' list. some kind of 'do not sell' list customers could use to opt out of this data mining? Just becasue a carrier gives me a privacy statement (too long in tiny print) doesn't mean I can change anything from it. How could I as a single consumer stop them from using my data? Or is this only going to be solved by mass legislation?
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
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