By EDRi

Open Rights Group, a UK member of EDRi has launched a campaign to enable people to opt out of location and web traffic tracking by their mobile providers.

The campaign includes a tool to help people find out how to opt out, which is usually quite hard to find information about.

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The campaign is backed by ORG and Krowdthink, who have produced research on Wifi location tracking policies alongside ORG’s research into tracking practices by major phone providers in the UK.

ORG’s key findings are that in most cases:

  1. Customers are not being given enough clear information about how their data is being used by their mobile providers.
  2. Customers are not being given clear and easy ways to opt-out if they don’t want companies to use their data.
  3. Companies could be breaking e-privacy law if they process traffic and location data without consent. The mobile phone companies that were contacted say that they anonymise data, which means that they are not legally obliged to ask for consent to use it. But it appears that in some cases the data is not fully anonymised and should therefore remain classed as personal information, requiring consent for reuse.
  4. Customers need to understand the risks if they are to give companies permission to use and share their data. But it is currently impossible for individuals to work out how effective anonymisation and pseudonymisation techniques are.
  5. The law may not be fit for purpose in giving customers control over the risks associated with big data.
  6. Companies and their clients are potentially getting value from data but it is not clear whether these benefits are being shared with customers.
  7. The Information Commissioner’s Office (the UK’s data protection authority) is doing very little to guide the market or enforce privacy standards and the UK has lower, less protective standards than other parts of the EU, despite having the same underlying legal regime.

The report also provides recommendations for changes needed in E-Privacy legislation in Europe. It highlights lax standards in the UK, calling for greater consistency across member states, as well as stronger enforcement, particularly around providing clearer consent.

Report „Cashing in on your mobile“ (04.04.2016)
https://www.openrightsgroup.org/ourwork/reports/mobile-data

Campaign „Opt me out of Location“
https://optmeoutoflocation.com

(Contribution by Jim Killock, Open Rights Group)

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