Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Can you trust your Carrier with your secrets?

Can you trust your Carrier with your secrets?

You already know your smartphone holds a ton of information about you from our previous article, now cell phone companies are looking for ways to turn that into profit.

Today, most of the data wireless carriers share with third parties is pretty generic: All four national carriers bundle together their customers' personal information and use that aggregated data to help outside companies target ads to their subscribers.

Cell phone companies are just scratching the surface of what they could be sharing.

Smartphones know where you are now, where you've been, what you like to shop for, and what apps you use. Your phone company knows your age, race and sex.

Put all that together, and the carriers have some extremely relevant information for brands vying for your business.

Consumers are no longer customers -- they are the product

Here's how cell phone companies and third-party brands might use your data: When you're standing outside a store, your cell phone company could provide your location and age (without your name attached) to the retailer, which could instantly place an ad on your phone that's targeted to you. Or, based on who is walking down the street, a retailer could instantly change a digital sign to lure them in. If you have a shop's app installed on your phone, that store could send you a coupon when you're nearby.

Verizon has already begun selling aggregated customers' location data to third parties. The carrier tracks broad categories of who passes by stores (age, race, sex) and gives that bundled information to the retailers. Those stores could then better advertise to the people that are most likely to buy their products, or they could set up shop in a part of town where their target demographic travels.