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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Obfuscating customer behaviour to maintain privacy

Listening to a discussion about telecom operators aggregating customer data, profiling people based on behavioural software and so on. Not surprisingly, there's the usual questions about privacy, peoples' dislike of personal advert-targetting and so forth.

Don't get me wrong, some of this stuff may be useful in terms of making sure adverts are more interesting and entertaining. But many people (and some countries' legal systems) will take an exceptionally dim view of telco data mining. It fits a bit into what I mentioned last week about the "social web" last week - who really wants all their contacts and behaviour and calls and traffic aggregated and analysed?

For those who do value their privacy, I see a broad set of options emerging to ensure fragmentation will endure. Firstly, the ability to share and federate anonymised connectivity via devices using Joiku Boost or MiFi-type connection sharing. And then I would also expect to see software that makes decoy calls/SMS's with your "spare" minutes and texts, or visits random websites on your flatrate data plan. That should make for some interesting "social graph" analysis.... lastly, I expect a fair amount of messaging or other traffic to be extracted by independent platforms like Facebook (and maybe Vodafone 360)...

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