NEWS13 May 2013

Ipsos Mori denies claims of personal data selling

Data analytics Privacy UK

UK — Ipsos Mori has refuted newspaper reports that it was offering personal data for sale from 27m customers of the EE mobile phone network.

The Sunday Times (£paywall) reported that the firm offered EE call and text data to the Metropolitan Police, private companies and other bodies that includes “gender, age, postcode, websites visited, time of day text is sent [and] location of customer when call is made”.

The newspaper claimed that documents promoting the data stated that people’s mobile phone use and location could be tracked in real time with records of movements, calls and text also available for the previous six months.

However, the paper said that the Met withdrew from talks over paying for some of the data after being contacted by the Sunday Times.

In a statement, Ipsos Mori said that it “absolutely refutes the suggestion that it is offering access to individual personal data for sale”.

The company pointed out that its research explores user volume, demographics and mobile web use from anonymised and aggregated groups of people.

The statement continued: “Ipsos Mori only received anonymised data without any personally identifiable information on an individual customer. We do not have access to any names, personal address information nor postcodes or phone numbers.”

UPDATE @ 1.33PM

Research has received the following statement from the MRS:

“MRS is aware of The Sunday Times report about Ipsos Mori’s research with Everything Everywhere (EE) and have been in contact with Ipsos Mori this morning. We have received assurances from Ipsos Mori that the report is inaccurate, and that their research involves access to aggregated and anonymised data only, supplied by EE. Further details on the research is available from the Ipsos Mori website.

“Ipsos Mori is an MRS Company Partner and has agreed to follow the MRS Code of Conduct. We will investigate any complaints we receive accordingly.”

@RESEARCH LIVE

7 Comments

10 years ago

I have no doubt that Ipsos Mori are working hard to stay within both the letter and spirit of the law. However, the complexities of this sort of mobile data are illustrated by an article published by Nature in March of this year. The article suggests that given mobile tracking data it is possible to identify 95% of the individuals from 'anonymous' data. So, is the issue that people treat the data as anonymous, or is the issue whether or not the individuals could be identified?

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10 years ago

Here is the link to the article in Nature http://www.nature.com/srep/2013/130325/srep01376/full/srep01376.html

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10 years ago

Interesting points and arguments, but the fact is....even if IPSOS collected anonymoised data or not... coupled with EE's data of their users, it is no longer anonymous (as IEMI and contract data can be added)....we'll see how it pans out I guess?!

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10 years ago

Given the severity of the allegations, you would hope that this is not the end of the matter. Anything less than Ipsos pushing for a full retraction, apology and/ or damages is going to leave question marks over the degree of truth in the claims.

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10 years ago

When you collect the stream of requested websites, things are not anonymous anymore (for example Facebook and Twitter traffic).

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10 years ago

I agree with Ray Poynter's comments. Ipsos-Mori should give an assurance that it is impossible to track locations from the anonymised date sets. No one doubts their good intentions but this is not the point.

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10 years ago

Regardless of whether what ipsos are doing is legal ethical or right I think it's imperative (and overdue) tha the MRS don't hide these issues as tomorrow's fish and chip paper, but make a very public acknowledgement of how data is collected and anonymous. Research needs the public on board and here is a great opportunity for the MRS to get info out to the public probably for free and without advertising!!! Don't delay...research needs the public, we're nothing without them!!!

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