Privacy regulations inadvertently limit digital choice. Telcos can restore it

Changes under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) have led to browser owners such as Google and Mozilla to sunset cookies; the identifier by which most advertising has been tracked and measured.

Whilst it’s widely accepted that GDPR was overdue to bring digital privacy regulations in line with media consumption habits, it has also put pressure on those providing content. Publishers, content and service providers, who rely on supplementary or full ad-income, have increasingly limited options in what they can offer users in the concept of digital choice, i.e. how users can access the content.

When it comes to accessing content, people have always had a choice. The fundamental proposition is relatively straightforward; you can access mostly free content or services in exchange for receiving targeted messages, be it commercial print, TV, radio or digital. Or you can pay a subscription fee.

In digital, the level of personal data freely given in return for access to services or content is unprecedented, be it posting on Instagram or sharing an update on Facebook. It is known and understood this provision enables far greater targeting of adverts.

The walled garden conundrum

Content and service providers that cannot fall back on the logins provided by walled gardens such as Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple, face a real conundrum. They are left with the question, “How can publishers authenticate the identities of web users in a way that’s compliant with GDPR and acceptable to advertisers?”.

Without the ability to identify web users across the anonymous web, advertisers will look to spend where they can more easily target users, and publishers will, therefore, need to drive authenticated log-ins, throw up paywalls or heavily promote ‘advertorial’ content. The number of publishers will also likely decrease, as many will be unable to monetise their audience data to significant effect, pushing the public into the walled gardens – whether they like it or not.

GDPR, which was created to protect the privacy of web users, may in the act restrict their options and inadvertently undermine the concept of digital choice.

Telcos can restore it.

Telcos provide choice and protection

Telcos, once they have taken a central position in martech, are well placed to provide their subscribers with both the privacy intentions of GDPR and choice of access with which they are familiar. They do this by enabling those outside of the walled gardens to retain an authenticated ID, so ensure they can continue to offer services and content based on the existing principle of value exchange.

Forward-thinking telcos have long-established business models around data; providing governments, infrastructure industries and commercial businesses with the ability to measure plan and deliver. For example, Telefonica’s LUCAO2 MotionOrange Datavenue offer analytics and actionable data to third-parties.

However, telcos have done less with real-time subscriber data. This is partially because of security concerns around transacting such data, and because of uncertainty over what value exchange, they can offer customers.

Things are beginning to change, and new opportunities are emerging for telcos to use real-time subscriber data safely and profitably. This is because a clear and attractive value exchange mechanism has emerged; online authentication.

Real-time authentication

Leading telcos are leveraging their subscriber data to help businesses in the finance sector authenticate transactions to help prevent fraud. Through the French Mobile Multimedia Association (AFMM), Orange, Bouygues and SFR now offer a mobile ID which compares the identification data entered on a partner’s website with those hosted by the operator. The value exchange cannot be more explicit: the subscriber exchanges personal data to safeguard against identity theft and fraud.

Under GDPR, telcos are data controllers, and that gives them a specific set of obligations around how customer data is used. And that is what is so compelling about using real-time subscriber data for authentication services. So long as telcos keep this data within their own highly-secure networks and under subscriber consent, they can offer a genuinely valuable service that also helps to create a more secure online environment for consumers. Privacy can coexist with choice.

Anonymised ID in advertising

When it comes to the digital advertising challenge, telcos can save the day for publishers and their consumers by offering a new type of ID based on real-time subscriber data, powered through Novatiq’s privacy-first ID platform.

By identifying audiences on an anonymised basis, whether logged in or not, third-parties can retain the value of targeted advertising outside of the walled gardens and the ad-funded open web can continue to grow whilst adhering to strict privacy regulations.

The value exchange is clear and compelling:

  • Subscribers data is protected
  • They retain a higher level of anonymity and control than ever before
  • Key GDPR stipulations are being met
  • In return, subscribers can continue to access high-quality content free of charge

Telcos can leverage their in-network ability to provide further service for subscribers outside of their traditional business models; a trusted provider of authentication services for the open web. So long as the value exchange is communicated clearly, it’s a service from which consumers can derive value.

Some leading telcos are already making moves in this space, and in part two of this blog series, we highlight some current examples. We will also take a deep dive into some of the practicalities of how telcos can implement real-time anonymised identity authentication services that are privacy-first and completely secure.

Vaughan Matthews

Director of Partnerships

19 Aug

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