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Telco CEO: Consumers have ‘double standards’ over data privacy

Wed 9 Nov 2016

Thorsten Dirks

Despite consumers continuing to criticise corporate attempts at monetising data, they are happily handing over data to major tech companies such as Facebook, according to the head of Telefonica Deutschland, Thorsten Dirks.

Dirks argued that there is a double standard among consumers who ‘scrutinise any attempt to make money off their data’, while at the same time ‘handing over data voluntarily to companies such as Google and Facebook.’ These firms, he opined, are stealing away business across the very infrastructure that telcos have invested billions in.

Calling for a wide debate around data privacy in Germany, Dirks told journalists that he was looking into ways to make money from Telefonica Deutschland’s huge store of customer data.

One of the uses Dirks proposed was leveraging the anonymised data of its 44 million mobile subscribers’ location and movements to support crowd and traffic control. He added that there would also be scope for many further smart applications, ‘that we at the moment cannot think of.’

As Germany’s largest telecoms operator, Telefonica Deutschland has established a new innovation branch known as Telefonica Next. The initiative seeks to promote big data and push for new smart developments in the IoT space. The CEO said that Telefonica hopes to provide a comprehensive platform for all internet-connected devices, processing IoT data from a broad range of sensor sources including from vehicles, electronic gadgets, and smart home devices.

Germany represents a particularly tough battleground for businesses wanting to access consumer data. The country has strict data privacy and sovereignty regulations, recently strengthened by an order from the Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information which required Facebook to stop collecting and storing data on German users of its mobile messaging app Whatsapp. The ruling also ordered that the social network deletes all data it had already received from Whatsapp users.

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Germany IoT news privacy telecom
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