In Carriers We Trust?

Consumers are increasingly concerned about how their personal data is used, according to new research commissioned by Nokia Networks (NSN), and the vendor says that service providers are ideally placed to ease those worries and protect users' data privacy.

In a YouGov survey of more than 5,000 consumers across France, Germany, Spain, the U.K. and Romania, 85 percent of the respondents say that privacy is important, 75 percent are concerned about privacy violations, 80 percent are afraid of their personal data being sold to third parties, and 66 percent think it's impossible to control the circulation of their personal data.

NSN says service providers are well placed to help ease their subscribers' privacy fears because consumers perceive them as trustworthy. According to the same survey, respondents ranked fixed and mobile communication providers as the second most trustworthy institutions after banks when it comes to data protection.

Service providers ranked higher in trust regarding privacy and data protection than insurance companies and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG).

Given that credibility ranking, NSN reckons service providers have a role to play in protecting and managing private data for their subscribers. Ultimately, such an initiative could result in a source of new service revenue for them -- and that's the goal.

For example, a service provider could offer a service that would essentially manage a user's online identity across all their social media by providing a "digital self-portrait," explains Doug Daberius, head of identity solutions management at NSN. "You, as an end user, can get a mirror image of what is out there about you. It would allow you to decide [how you] want to control this information."

"Because of the insight and what they know about you, [communications service providers] can help make sure you have a better customer experience," says Daberius. "We can give the mechanism to CSPs that enables end users to decide how they want to represent themselves to social media."

Why this matters
For service providers grappling with strategic decisions about how they can remain relevant -- and not become mere dumb pipes -- in a market where the likes of Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) and Google command consumer brand awareness, NSN's data-privacy initiative could provide an answer. There is an opportunity for service providers to turn identity management into a service.

In the realm of Service Provider Information Technology (SPIT), this takes subscriber-data management to a new level. And that's an area in which NSN claims the lead in the market. NSN says it is number one in subscriber-data management as its systems manage 1.8 billion subscribers and it has 115 subscriber-data management customers.

And for NSN, this data-privacy initiative is a "major strategy thrust," adds Daberius.

For more
The subject of privacy and data protection usually crops up when an operator seriously messes up and intimate subscriber information is leaked in some way, or when service providers complain about the onerous transparency requirements placed on them by data-protection regulations. (European operators are about to be lumbered with more compliance requirements when new EU legislation comes into effect in May this year.)

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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