back to article Tech and mobile companies want to monetise your data ... but are scared of GDPR

The vast majority of technology, media and telecom (TMT) companies want to monetise customer data, but are concerned about regulations such as Europe's GDPR, according to research from law firm Simmons & Simmons. The outfit surveyed 350 global business leaders in the TMT sector to understand their approach to data …

  1. Oh Matron!

    Quite...

    "And that comes down to the value exchange: your data for what?"

    I see this as a unilateral benefit. The customer receives nothing but more targeted merde.

    Lidl / Aldi understand this. You go in for a tin of beans and come out with a car jack. Completely untargetted.

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: Quite...

      Meanwhile in the world of those companies who run on targeted like it's worth something.

      You get pestered about ads for car jacks for weeks after buying one, as if they're a tin of beans.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Quite...

        ...followed by ads for new cars, cheap types, car insurance.... Give it a few months, you then get the calls from our offshore friends asking if you've recently been in a car accident.

        All for what started out was a quest for a tin of beans.

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Quite...

          All for what started out was a quest for a tin of beans

          So what you are saying is that tins of beans are a butterfly flapping its wings far, far away?

    2. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Quite...

      "You go in for a tin of beans and come out with a car jack."

      You too, eh? Gotta love the magic wonderland of random shit.

      1. Benson's Cycle

        Re: Quite...

        The catch is that some of the Lidl/Aldi stuff is quite good, it's just end of line. A few years back ours had a big pile of portable generators, quite good ones. They went in a day or so as the word got round the local tradesmen.

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          Re: Quite...

          I would actually go as far as to say that practically all of the Lidl/Aldi stuff is really quite good value, with the odd occasion that the quality of something is so low that it's not worth what you paid, but when Lidl/Aldi realise a supplier has had them on something they simply don't reorder from them so it's fairly self correcting.

          A lot of what they are shifting doesn't appeal to me, but presumably some people buy these things as they rarely have their odd items staying in the shop for long. I would just correct something there though; it is all targeted. Aldi/Lidl know that people come to them because -bluntly- they sell high volumes of cheap stuff. If money is no object then you go to waitrose. As a result, waitrose needs to figure out how to target marketing of high margin items to their customers.

          Lidl/Aldi don't need to try and figure out what to sell people by trying to leverage huge amounts of data to try and sell high margin items; their customers self select as wanting to buy cheap stuff by virtue of shopping at their stores. Therefore, if a warehouse somewhere wants shot of a hundred pallets of portable generators that are hogging shelves and not selling then if they offer a knock down price for you to clear the lot then you buy the lot, stick one pallet in a hundred stores at a silly low price (only markup the price by +20% from the trade price rather than the more conventional +200%) and even if only 0.1% of your customer base was interested in buying them then they are still going to be gone pretty sharpish simply due to the volume of people visiting them.

      2. Fred Dibnah Silver badge

        Re: Quite...

        It’s milk and a set of spanners for me.

        1. Erebus_77

          Re: Quite...

          My missus is still in shock from the day that i went out for bread, and came back with a MIG welder

          1. Jim Mitchell

            Re: Quite...

            What, she really wanted the TIG welder?

    3. SVV Silver badge

      You go in for a tin of beans and come out with a car jack

      Go on, tell us : what does car jack on toast taste like then?

    4. AIBailey Silver badge

      Re: Quite...

      You go in for a tin of beans and come out with a car jack.

      I totally misread that, and assumed some kind of carjacking scenario.

      My first thought was "You're not wrong. The kids that hang around the local Aldi will try and pinch anything."

    5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Quite...

      "You go in for a tin of beans and come out with a car jack."

      They may well be - and probably are - perfectly OK but I can't help thinking "Would I feel comfortable working under a car held up by a jack I bought from a place whose primary value to me is to sell me tins of beans?".

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: Quite...

        You know you shouldn't work under any car jack, you should just use them to lift the car and then place specific jack stands under it?

        1. Fred Dibnah Silver badge

          Re: Quite...

          If you haven’t got any stands you could use a few tins of beans instead.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Quite...

          You've got to trust the jack whilst you're placing the stands.

          1. JohnFen Silver badge

            Re: Quite...

            You do? I never have when I've placed the stands -- I just slide them in from the side. Very little of my body is under the car doing that, and only for a second.

    6. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Quite...

      > ...with a car jack.

      Dremel knock-off with diamond drill bits!

      SWMBO always rolls eyes as soon as she notices me looking at those stands with the technical gadgets.

      1. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: Quite...

        "SWMBO always rolls eyes"

        As should we when the females stare longingly at adverts for perfume with a three digit price tag.

        When perfume costs more than printer ink or scotch aged longer than you've been alive, you know something is astray.

        1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
          Angel

          Re: Quite...

          It (eye rolling) is really not about price, but me being overexcited a bit ...and trying to explain while this and that is nice to have and, oh that is nice as well, oh look, they also have (etc. etc.). Me in Aldi heaven ------------>

          SWMBO would never buy very expensive perfume. Thank god.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Quite...

          I don't think there's any original vendor's ink that cheap.

        3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Quite...

          females stare longingly at adverts for perfume with a three digit price tag

          I seem to have aquired (30+ years ago) a paragon then - she's really, really not interested in such stuff. Of course, that could just be her allergy to spending money..

          She does, however, accept that some things do need spending money on - my computer habit and her Morris Minor habit..

          1. JohnFen Silver badge

            Re: Quite...

            Maybe you have a little selection bias going on?

            I know that I dislike it when people wear perfume or cologne, and I'd be unlikely to date a woman who had a perfume habit for long enough to end up marrying her!

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "your data for what"

    These days, it would seem that the ability to post inane tweets, a picture of your meal or some other equally useless thing is quite enough to validate the usage of people's data.

    The only reason we're having this discussion is because people don't actually care what they are being used for on the Internet. There appears to be a general approach of "I can do whatever I want, there are no consequences and I will use anything that is free without thinking".

    As long as the majority think that way, companies will be able to get away with a lot. That is why GDPR is likely the best thing to happen to the Internet in general. Only the fines will keep companies in line.

    1. Khaptain Silver badge

      Re: "your data for what"

      "That is why GDPR is likely the best thing to happen to the Internet in general. Only the fines will keep companies in line."

      Agreed, but they have to start fining the companies that exist already... Let's start with Google and Facebook, but go the whole hog, 4% of their global revenue, every month whilst the conditions are not remedied... Now that would truly calm these data greedy thieves.

  3. TimR

    "The vast majority of technology, media and telecom (TMT) companies want to monetise customer data, but are concerned about regulations such as Europe's GDPR, according to research from law firm Simmons & Simmons"

    How do Simmons & Simmons make money out of stating the bleedin' obvious? Honest question

    1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      How do Simmons & Simmons make money out of stating the bleedin' obvious?

      Nervous management love having someone state the bleeding obvious to them as it covers their arses. See also: management consultants.

  4. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    Devil

    And there you have it...

    "...monetise your data". My data, not theirs.

    1. EastFinchleyite

      Re: And there you have it...

      The problem is that it would seem "My Data" has some value and that these companies want it without paying for it. I see two solutions

      - Somehow make them pay for it although I have no idea how to do this and I doubt it is feasible

      - Remove the value from my data.

      The second option sounds promising. What I want is for some clever bugger to design and write a script that uses my PC (when I'm not using it) to generate vast amounts of garbage data and make sure that it gets to the data slurpers. It would swamp anything useful they collected and steer them in wrong directions. A simple version would be to make large numbers of Google and Amazon searches for tea strainers and scented candles. I am sure with a bit more thought it could be made far more sophisticated. Hand warmers and electric toothbrushes anyone?

      THEN I offer to turn it off on receipt of payment from the slurpers. They can have all the garbage data they want for free. The useful stuff will cost.

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: And there you have it...

        "I see two solutions"

        Neither of those solves the problem I have with all of this: consent. If I don't consent to having my data slurped, it should not be slurped. End of story.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: And there you have it...

        "A simple version would be to make large numbers of Google and Amazon searches for tea strainers and scented candles. I am sure with a bit more thought it could be made far more sophisticated. Hand warmers and electric toothbrushes anyone?"

        I like the idea. Do we make carefully tuned searches for widely disparate pairs of terms or simply randomise them? Quicklime and carpets?

        Maybe lots of searches for combinations of horse, battery and staple would result in that cartoon coming to the top of a Google search for any one of them. Intriguing possibilities there.

      3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: And there you have it...

        Somehow make them pay for it

        My standard response to 'marketing survey' calls is "How much are you prepared to pay me for this information?".

        I had one caller argue that the information was of no value to them and that it was a public service. To which my response was "so why are you being paid to collect it?". She put the phone down on me..

        Of course, the follow-on question is "where did you get my number and did you check it against the TPS/MPS service?". That one also usually gets the phone put down hurredly..

  5. Filippo

    Sounds like the GDPR is working exactly as intended.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      GDPR working

      Only until we leave the EU.

      We will get what we asked for. Chaos.

      Now where's the red carpet for Trump and his pals?

      Here, have the NHS. Going cheap...

      1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

        Re: GDPR working

        Not cheap - replacing those drugs will cost beeeeg

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: GDPR working

        Only until we leave the EU.

        UK data protection law was tougher than EU law, with larger fines, before GDPR. Why should it be weaker than GDPR after we leave, especially since we'll have to respect GDPR to trade with the EU?

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: GDPR working

          UK data protection law was tougher than EU law

          True, as there was no EU law. UK data protection before was a lot weaker than German and Dutch, to name just two.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: GDPR working

            UK data protection before was a lot weaker than German and Dutch, to name just two.

            I can't speak for Dutch law, but UK law was much more severe than German, with fines 1.5x higher, and long predates it.

            1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

              Re: GDPR working

              That law may have been much more severe, but how about enforcement?

          2. Mike 137 Bronze badge

            Re: GDPR working

            "there was no EU law" - Yes there was.

            It was a Directive which set out what was to be achieved. A Directive leaves the way of achieving it to member states to work out individually, so the quality of the resulting implementations varied. It varied too much in some cases, and in fact the UK DPA 1998 was deemed seriously deficient. The Regulation was created to rectify this, as a Regulation must be followed to the letter with the exception of any specific derogations. That's why the UK Data Protection Act 2018 refers to articles of the GDPR rather than specifying requirements itself except where it's allowed to by a derogation.

      3. Robert D Bank

        Re: GDPR working

        the NHS and all that lovely data..

  6. 0laf Silver badge
    Childcatcher

    Good!

    I want them to be terrified of screwing up with my data.

    Paralised with fear.

    Although TBH I'd settle for pretty much giving a shit since most companies I run into still appear to be using data on a wing and a prayer.

    1. Alister Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Good!

      paralyzed...

  7. codejunky Silver badge

    Hmm

    And of course this will be seen as some kind of victory and without seeing the benefits people wont know the difference. But yet those benefits are advancement and progress. People wanting things for free but unwilling to pay the price to bring the costs down.

    There is some legitimate fear of having your data shared, such as from oppression. Telecom's not really doing much in that business since they provide a means of freely communicating with other people at reducing prices. Compare that with a distrust of a centralised medical database because while it would be great for science and health research we dont trust the bastards in governments.

    1. Chronos Silver badge

      Trust (was Re: Hmm)

      The T word is the issue in all of this. I, personally, don't trust anyone until they've earned it. Overriding one's basic right to control who we trust is a trust-damaging act in itself, which is why we now have this negative feedback loop: You lose trust in Big Data, they push for more and remove control, you trust them even less, ad infinitum. Google's removal of the WebAccess API in Chrome, crippling µ[Matrix|Block] is a case in point. All that is going to do is either drive market share of Chrome down or usage of, e.g., PiHole up with the concomitant perception of Google being even more untrustworthy.

      I completely get the idea of quid pro quo for web services, it's just that there should be choice. It's a bit like the TV Licence; people should not be forced to contribute to something they feel is not good value, in this case sacrificing privacy for a few shiny baubles.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Hmm

      You forgot the targeted propaganda.

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Hmm

        @Doctor Syntax

        I didnt forget. We choose to give data to these companies. And while a lot of what they do might be useless or a minor irritant it is the good that makes the difference.

        1. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: Hmm

          We don't all choose to give them data. I don't choose to do that -- they just take it.

          "while a lot of what they do might be useless or a minor irritant it is the good that makes the difference."

          I don't really agree, but I'm not going to make that argument here. Instead, I'll just point out that whether or not the good outweighs the bad is up to us each to decide individually. What needs to happen is that there is an effective way that people can stop the spying if they choose.

          The GDPR is a good first step in that direction, and that companies are limiting their collection/use of data as a result confirms that.

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Hmm

        You forgot the targeted propaganda

        Annnd we are back to Cambridge Analytica again..

    3. Muscleguy Silver badge

      Re: Hmm

      The other thing is you cannot trust everyone, unfortunately. I used to work in a lab where the lab head was wont to give talks putting up patient data without any attempt to mask identifying info. He was told not to several times but kept on doing it.

      He’s the Dean now so it didn’t do him any harm.

    4. Claverhouse Silver badge

      Re: Hmm

      People wanting things for free but unwilling to pay the price to bring the costs down.

      What things are these capitalist scum offering me for free ?

      I pay for my own broadband; once there I can choose to pay for paywall etc. sites, or get the same information from those who do not charge. Tradesmen, like Amazon or eBay offer free views in order that we may buy from them; there's no charity involved. Most MSM is free [ mostly because they want to whine about Trumpo ].

      I have no interest in how websites finance themselves: why should they take this 'Data' merely to try and make money from me and all the other viewers ? Some of my sites are shuttered because I can't afford hosting, they should do the same if they can't make ends meet.

      I trust any government more than I trust any capitalist --- or any socialist for that matter. Government gives order: libertarians give only the reek of advancing themselves and fuck everybody.

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Hmm

        @Claverhouse

        "What things are these capitalist scum offering me for free ?"

        Actually nothing. As I said it is people who want things for free. Why on earth do we have mobile phones with huge data limits at great speeds when we had the postal system where you pay for a stamp? Just look at the path between the two and the massive advancement due to people wanting more at reduced costs, and the monetary cost going down as other means of subsidy are implemented (data).

        "I pay for my own broadband"

        That gorgeous dial-up which limited websites to basic low res graphics and huge advancements in compression. Or do you have blazing speeds offering websites quickly with graphics pleasing to the eye that has created the interactive long distant communications we love? Be hard/expensive to facebook message never mind video call previously. Now people do it to avoid mobile phone call charges!

        "I have no interest in how websites finance themselves: why should they take this 'Data' merely to try and make money from me and all the other viewers ?"

        I am sure you dont care how Tesco finance themselves, why should they charge you for a tin of beans? From what I have seen of the estimates of the value of this data it is a pittance per person, yet provides a profit. Something so low in value but so broad it provides enough to sustain it. Not bad for a service you can choose to give data to (or not) and provides a number of services.

        "Some of my sites are shuttered because I can't afford hosting, they should do the same if they can't make ends meet."

        You failed so they should? Why? You say some of your sites so I assume you also have successes there, just as they have succeeded. You dont like em, dont use em.

        "I trust any government more than I trust any capitalist"

        Yikes. A government is an entity, a capitalist is a perspective. Out of interest if you dont trust a capitalist where do you live (country)? Do you live in a non-capitalist utopia? If so how do you feel using the very technology provided by capitalists?

        "or any socialist for that matter."

        Socialist being the other end of the scale from capitalist and just another perspective. I am honestly very interested to hear of an alternative viewpoint. The capitalist/socialist divide being of who owns the means of production.

        "Government gives order: libertarians give only the reek of advancing themselves and fuck everybody."

        So you prefer authoritarian? There are some famous authoritarian governments but mostly for advancing themselves and fuck everybody. Government may give the appearance of order but rarely does that seem to work out or be true.

        1. Chronos Silver badge
          Flame

          Re: Hmm

          That gorgeous dial-up which limited websites to basic low res graphics and huge advancements in compression. Or do you have blazing speeds offering websites quickly with graphics pleasing to the eye that has created the interactive long distant communications we love? Be hard/expensive to facebook message never mind video call previously. Now people do it to avoid mobile phone call charges!

          One person's graphics pleasing to the eye is another's pointless chrome. Everything you mention can be done over open, established mechanisms without being dressed up in a frock and monetised. The mechanisms developed to create the dynamic web we see today have been driven not by aesthetics but by a desire to hide things from view such as web beacons, supercookies and offline storage. That Javascript, for example, can be used to create engaging content is a side-effect.

          It also required (note, "required" past tense because we've pretty much hit a ceiling for general purpose computing and the upgrade hell is now the sole preserve of mobile telephones) consumers upgrade more and more just to display this needless chrome. Now we've hit a plateau, one wonders just how fast the web could be without all the cross-site tracking, advertising pulls from the bare minimum specified kit behind load balancers, surreptitious insertion of unique identifiers and content delivery as a service. I suspect that metric is far, far better than what we have at present and it would seem that these data fetishists and ad bureaux are wasting your, my and everyone else's time, money and sanity for very little return.

          Governments are inherently untrustworthy as anyone who wants power over others is exactly the type of person you don't give it to. However, they are removable, at least partially democratically elected and accountable here in Capatalistia. The likes of Zuck and Google aren't accountable to anyone.

          In short, old boy, you're talking out of your tail-feathers while defending the indefensible.

          1. codejunky Silver badge

            Re: Hmm

            "Everything you mention can be done over open, established mechanisms without being dressed up in a frock and monetised"

            Then go ahead and do it. Either use those or make them. People tend to do what they want and so google and facebook are only in existence due to people wanting them. The value of the data they hold is so tiny per person that it is only worth doing at large scale and only profitable over a broad audience.

            It is very easy to get rid of them, stop using them. If people decide not to use facebook and google then they will go away. The vast developments of technology, communication and availability are driven by peoples desires and people obviously desire these services.

            "In short, old boy, you're talking out of your tail-feathers while defending the indefensible."

            So far you seem to be telling me black is white and I am defending the indefensible position that black is black. The real world being my yardstick to measure against while you tell me of a hypothetical non-monetised alternate world.

            You claim google and facebook are accountable to no-one while they are accountable to the law and their consumers. Compare that to govenrnents which are made up of electable parties after serving a set number of years and unelectable public service people.

  8. Rich 2 Silver badge

    A good news story! Yay!!

    "...and the Google fine in France... has definitely dampened some innovation."

    For "innovation" read "privacy invasion".

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Businesses worried about getting in trouble

    for selling my data - a lot of which I don't necessarily know I'm providing or choose to provide (location based on IP, tracking cookies to create browsing history, etc.) My reaction: world's tiniest violin playing "My Heart Bleeds For You". The simple answer is, don't sell customers' data!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @AC - Re: Businesses worried about getting in trouble

      Or even better: here's my data I put it for sale. Give me 150$ a month and you can sell it for a (still huge) profit.

      1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: @AC - Businesses worried about getting in trouble

        here's my data I put it for sale. Give me 150$ a month and you can sell it for a (still huge) profit.

        Facebook's profit in 2018 was ~22 G$ from 2.32 billion users, a profit of $9.48 per user. That's the upper limit of what your data is worth to them, a long way away from $1800 per annum.

        Similar figures undoubtedly apply to all the other data harvesters.

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: @AC - Businesses worried about getting in trouble

          Their problem, not mine.

        2. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: @AC - Businesses worried about getting in trouble

          As A.P. Veening said much more succinctly...

          It doesn't matter even a little how much your data is actually worth to companies. What matters is how much it's worth to you.

  10. Tom 35 Silver badge

    dampened some innovation

    Oh Boohoo.

  11. TheGhostDeejay

    The sad thing

    is that these advertisers will never realise they have brought it all on themselves.

    And I used to think flashing banner ads were bad.

    Cheers… Ishy

  12. TheGhostDeejay

    (U.K) A.S.A. having a go

    Sorry, I forgot to leave this link. Why are they called "influencers"? Will someone tell them it's just a posh word for "advertisers"

    https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/gyzw7b/instagram-influencer-marketing-spon-con-followers-asa-guidelines

    Cheers… Ishy

    1. Robert D Bank

      Re: (U.K) A.S.A. having a go

      They should be called influenza's. Those whore's are just as pernicious, if not more so.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: (U.K) A.S.A. having a go

        Now you are insulting real whores.

  13. JohnFen Silver badge

    Good, then it's working

    They should be terrified. If they weren't, that would be evidence that the GDPR isn't working.

    I read several martech and marketing sites (know your enemy!), and there are a few things that happen daily in them that are horrifying. One of which is the sheer amount of effort that these companies are putting into finding ways to evade the clear intent of consumer data protection laws and be able to legally continue to abuse people.

    This industry is rotten to the core.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: Good, then it's working

      One of which is the sheer amount of effort that these companies are putting into finding ways to evade the clear intent of consumer data protection laws and be able to legally continue to abuse people.

      That makes it intentional breach of GDPR legislation, will do wonders for the height of the fine.

  14. Welsh Skeptic

    I was reading the other day about the DVLA and how they make £20 million a year selling driver's details to parking firms for £2.50 a time.

    As far as I know, the DVLA has never asked me if it is okay for them to hand out my data in this fashion, so could it be breaking the law.?

    We all know that the DVLA is run by a private company and they might argue that they only had out information to companies belonging to a trade association but you then find out that this association is run like a private club with perhaps only the interests of these firms being their main priority.

    My humble suggestion is that the DVLA should introduce a tick box as to whether you agree to your data to be shared with all and sundry.

    What also surprised me was that a third of hospital parking charges was paid for by the staff. Talk about milking a captive clientele.

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