Phone network EE has denied any wrongdoing in a privacy brouhaha that sees another firm accused of trying to sell EE customer data to the Metropolitan Police.
Despite officially having access only to anonymous data on EE customers, market-research company Ipsos Mori is alleged to have offered the Met personal data, a claim EE calls "misleading".
In a deal between the two companies, Ipsos Mori analyses anonymous data provided by EE, which has 27 million customers under its various brands, and sells that insight to other companies to help them understand more about what consumers do. "Data analysis is entirely aggregated and anonymised," says EE, "and it is simply not possible to extract any personal information from this."
But the Sunday Times claims Ipsos Mori tried to sell data to the Met, including EE customers' age details, gender, postcode, Web browsing, and information on times and location when calls and texts were made -- a claim Ipsos Mori and EE strenuously deny.
"Official company policy may be different from claims made by employees," cautions privacy group the Open Rights Group. "The claims need thorough investigation by the ICO."
Turning data into money
Mobile phone companies hold a vast amount of information about us and our movements, and are keen as mustard to make money from that. O2's parent Telefonica, for example, uses anonymous group data to evaluate the number of people visiting shops and other venues.
"The question of resale of anonymised data is very serious," says the Open Rights Group. "Consent should be required to reuse your data, including consent to anonymisation. This incident reaffirms why we need the strong protections in the new Data Protection Regulation."
Should phone companies use anonymous data about our whereabouts and activities, or is this a gross invasion of privacy? Are you okay with your life being recorded and sold, even if it is anonymous? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook wall.