Least Surprising News: Verizon is Spyware

eyeball The shameless profit ranchers we in the USA allow to sell us our cell phone service not only provide us massively over-priced substandard products, but turn around and sell our data to other corporate overlords. As always with big business marketing, it only grows. According to Advertising Age:

Under the radar, Verizon, Sprint, Telefonica and other carriers have partnered with firms including SAP, IBM, HP and AirSage to manage, package and sell various levels of data to marketers and other clients. It’s all part of a push by the world’s largest phone operators to counteract diminishing subscriber growth through new business ventures that tap into the data that showers from consumers’ mobile web surfing, text messaging and phone calls.

[M]arketers and agencies are testing never-before-available data from cellphone carriers that connects device location and other information with telcos’ real-world files on subscribers. Some services offer real-time heat maps showing the neighborhoods where store visitors go home at night, lists the sites they visited on mobile browsers recently and more.

SAP’s Consumer Insight 365 ingests regularly updated data representing as many as 300 cellphone events per day for each of the 20 million to 25 million mobile subscribers. SAP won’t disclose the carriers providing this data. It “tells you where your consumers are coming from, because obviously the mobile operator knows their home location,” said Lori Mitchell-Keller, head of SAP’s global retail industry business unit.

The global market for telco data as a service is potentially worth $24.1 billion this year, on its way to $79 billion in 2020, according to estimates by 451 Research based on a survey of likely customers. “Challenges and constraints” mean operators are scraping just 10% of the possible market right now, though that will rise to 30% by 2020, 451 Research said.

And so it goes…

Koop it Up

brill In the spirit of C. Everett Koop, Joycelyn Elders, and Diane Ravitch, it appears we have our latest heretical honest public servant mistakenly-appointed high government agency administrator. This time, it’s Julie Brill, pictured at left, head of the Federal Trade Commission. Per Advertising Age:

Big data brokers are “taking advantage of us without our permission.” Those were the words of Federal Trade Commissioner Julie Brill this morning at the Computers, Freedom and Privacy Conference in Washington.

The commissioner, often vocal on data-privacy issues, called on Congress to legislate what she calls a “Reclaim Your Name” program, one that would establish technical controls allowing people to access the information data collectors have stored about them, control how it is shared and correct it when necessary.

As always, the reaction was immediate:

The Direct Marketing Association was caught off guard by Commissioner Brill’s announcement. “DMA has been in discussion with Commissioner Brill regarding ways to increase transparency in the ‘data broker’ industry, but was surprised to see her announcement of this new initiative,” said Rachel Thomas, VP of government affairs at DMA. “The FTC’s Section 6B inquiry into ‘data brokers’ is still ongoing, and the Commission has yet to articulate a specific problem that would justify a call for congressional action in this area,” she continued in an emailed statement.

The fun continued, too, as Brill dared tell the obvious truth about another aspect of corporate marketing-spying:

Ms. Brill indicated that the FTC believes mobile device IDs are personally-identifiable…. “Information linked to specific devices is, for all intents and purposes, linked to individuals,” she said.

The FTC is calling on data companies and users of consumer data “to commit to a robust program to de-identify their information,” she said, arguing that predictive analytics have rendered much of the consumer information collected as forever linked to individuals, no matter industry’s claims that the information often is anonymized or aggregated.

Companies should “take both technical and behavioral steps to make sure information used in advertising is truly and completely de-identified.” Ms. Brill didn’t make distinctions between data collected and used by first-parties and third-parties.

Countless retailers and consulting firms that provide data services to them — such as Acxiom, Merkle and many others — handle terabytes of personally-identifiable consumer data on a regular basis.

Ms. Brill’s comments come amid revelations that the National Security Administration has gleaned consumer phone call and Internet data from corporations including Verizon, Google and Facebook. Indeed, corporate data-harvesting practices for logistics and marketing purposes have facilitated the controversial NSA data grab.

Companies collecting or employing data should make a public commitment not to re-identify information, and should contractually require their partners to make the same commitments, continued the commissioner.

How can you tell when you have the overclass dead-to-rights? That’s when they have nothing left to say but plain denial. According to Ad Age:

Many of the companies using device IDs to track in-store shopping behavior and other location-based interactions hold that they are not.

“Many” here means “all,” of course…

One wonders: How long til Zerobama cans Brill?

Marketing as Sociopathy

sociopath How do they sleep at night, after spending their working days helping corporate capitalists, at great expense and costs to end users, trick people into doing what the overclass requires, the planet and the people be damned?

Advertising Age today has a column by one Allie Savarino Kline, chief marketing officer at aspiring data scraper 33Across. Ms. Kline reports that, while “Google, Yahoo, Quantcast and my firm 33Across alone protect data on well over 2 billion people” and are moving to exploit that “big data” to map the “social DNA” that surrounds corporate brands, some marketers are hesitating to jump into that endeavor.

The frame of reference Kline chooses is telling:

Read moreMarketing as Sociopathy