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Ofcom says mobile contracts should ditch inflation-related price rises

Ofcom says mobile contracts should ditch inflation-related price rises

UK telecoms regulator Ofcom wants to ban inflation-related rises in phone and broadband contracts. Instead, it says any potential mid-contract price rises should be set out in pounds and pence.
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Global smartphone market is set for recovery, says new forecast

A new forecast from research specialists Canalys shows the smartphone market is set to recover next year. Worldwide shipments declined by 12% last year but that decline is expected to slow to 5% this year.
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Vodafone and Three plan to merge their UK businesses

Vodafone and Three plan to merge their UK businesses

New Hutchison/Vodafone network would be biggest UK operator

Vodafone Group plc and CK Hutchison Group Telecom Holdings Limited have agreed to combine their UK telecommunication businesses, respectively Vodafone UK and Three UK. The merger will create a large new network operator to compete with Virgin Media O2 and EE.
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UK mobile payment service Paym to close in March 2023

UK mobile payment service Paym will close on 7th March 2023. The service, which allowed users to make and receive payments using their mobile phone numbers, was launched in 2014.
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Qualcomm legal action moves forward in the UK

Qualcomm legal action moves forward in the UK

Which? seeks payout for Samsung and Apple smartphone owners

Consumer protection organisation Which? has been given permission by the UK's Competition Appeal Tribunal to represent Apple and Samsung smartphone buyers in a legal case against chip manufacturer Qualcomm.
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Opinion Articles

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Giving it all away

Paying with our privacy

Mark Bridge writes:

There’s been a lot of talk recently about PRISM, which may allow the US National Security Agency - and anyone they choose - to access some of our personal online information if it passes through the USA. It’s unclear exactly what (if anything) is being shared with whom… and given the nature of national security, we may never know.

However, alongside the possibility of governments seeing information we thought was secure, it’s also worth pointing out that we choose to share plenty of online information ourselves. I’m not talking about social media and the hazards of speaking your mind on Facebook or Twitter. I’m talking about marketing.

Earlier this week I stopped off at a Costa Coffee shop for a drink and some free WiFi. Now, I appreciate there can be security concerns with using any public WiFi; my information isn’t just passing through someone else’s internet connection but is also at risk of being intercepted by a ‘hacker’ sitting inside the coffee shop.

But what caught my eye were the terms and conditions of the agreement for using the free WiFi, which - in this case - was offered by O2.

First of all I need to sign up with my mobile phone number, which is a simple and relatively secure process. My mobile contract isn’t with O2, so I’m slightly uncomfortable about O2 having my number on its database. Will they be contacting me on it to try and churn me from my current mobile network?  Best read the rest of those terms.

Well, there’s the legal stuff, which didn’t surprise me too much. I’m authorising O2 to use any information about me and the way I use the O2 WiFi service for fraud detection, crime detection, credit control and other law-related purposes. Oh, and they can pass this on to other telecom companies, debt collection agencies, government departments plus their associated companies and partners for legal purposes, too.

What I’m also agreeing to is O2 using information about me and my internet use for marketing. It seems they’re authorised to write to me, to phone me at home, to phone my mobile, to send me text messages, to send me email messages, to send me picture messages and to contact me using ‘other means’, which may well involve a barbershop quartet outside my bedroom window at 2am or laser projection onto my immortal soul. Theoretically they could use data from the sites I visit in order to target their marketing messages. That means a 2am barbershop quartet singing about knitted coats for cats. Yes, I’m apparently agreeing to all this by using the free WiFi.

“There’s no such thing as a free lunch”, you say. Very true. And O2 UK is being perfectly clear about the terms, so I’m not complaining about the company’s behaviour.

But in a week when everyone’s talking about the privacy implications of ‘Big Brother’ spying on internet traffic, it’s worth remembering we’re also paying with our privacy for many free internet services.

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