I finally found time this week to sit down and read the latest issue of Adage, which was centered around two of my favorite things: Digital and Data. An article titled The $24 Billion Data Business That Telcos Don’t Want to Talk About caught my attention and left me pondering for the remainder of the week–Is this ethical? Is it an invasion of privacy? Is Big Data at risk of taking it too far?
While many may say marketers are already invading our privacy by using tools such as our digital footprint to market to us, our digital footprint contains a great deal of information that we choose to share with the world or that we know is being captured and shared. We expect that data gathered from our cell phone during web surfing and purchasing is shared, but just how much are our cell phone providers sharing with data and marketing companies? The answer is likely more than we know and more the we knew we agreed to.
So what are providers such as Verizon, Sprint, Telefonica and other carriers testing with firms such as SAP, IBM, HP and Airsage? Everything. Our providers are willing to share things such as where we live and where we go after we leave the store. You may have figured they may have already been sharing that, but what about the more personal interactions you depend on your phone for…Things such as texting and phone calls? They will be sharing that too.
Are you uncomfortable yet? Wondering how your cell phone provider is able to release this information or if you will be receiving something in the mail to sign to allow your provider to release your information? You won’t get it. You already signed it…It is all legal because you signed a terms and conditions contract that gave your provider permission somewhere in the tiny print.
With all of this said, it is important to note that SAP only receives non-personally identifiable, anonymized information from telcos. SAP then only releases aggregated information to its clients. However, concerns still arise since a little hacking and algorithm work could easily connect the information back to the household.
Concerns raised from this new data practice range from consumer privacy to the availability of information that will be at the fingertips of hackers. They will not only have access to your age, where you live and where you shop, but they could potentially have access to your interests, your activities and your conversations. As a person who loves the new technology and the data that has forever changed the marketing world, I do believe there are limits as to what should and should not be shared. This new sharing is something to keep a close eye on in the coming months.
The below video is a “food for thought” video discussing big data and privacy. Have our cellular providers gotten to the point of being “creepy” as the video describes?
Liked that? Want to learn more about cell phone privacy?