Mobile operator EE has defended plans to sell personal data of its 27 million customers to the police, branding The Sunday Times article “misleading to say the least”.
The report claimed research firm Ipsos Mori was using an exclusive deal to sell on EE’s data, and had held talks with numerous private and public organisations, including the Metropolitan Police.
The company said Ipsos Mori had access only to anonymised data grouped in samples of 50 people or more.
“We would never breach the trust our customers place in us and we always act to comply fully with the Data Protection Act,” a statement from EE said. “The information is anonymised and aggregated, and cannot be used to identify the personal information of individual customers.”
The report said the data on offer included customer’s gender, age, postcode, websites they visited, the time of day they sent texts and their location when making calls.
The Met Police confirmed that chiefs had held an “initial meeting” with Ipsos Mori to discuss how the data could be used to tackle crime, but added it “has made no offer to purchase data from Ipsos Mori nor has any intention of doing so”.
In its defence, Ipsos Mori – which has yet to fully finalise the terms of the deal with EE – said the dataset was “not about individuals – it’s about behaviour”.
The market for mobile data has been growing rapidly in recent months. Telefónica, the company behind the O2 brand in the UK, opened up its location-based customer database to third party companies through a new Dynamic Insights service late last year.
The programme aims to interpret, analyse and then sell the anonymous data of O2 customers. The mobile giant already offered customer data to its Priority Moments partners but the deal saw it open up its database on a much larger scale.
O2 to open up customer database