…while some carriers have decided to press on with developing their data business since former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden’s disclosures, others have started pitching themselves as their customers’ best allies in seeking to hide from any prying eyes. Verizon’s Precision Marketing Insights product, which offers businesses statistics about mobile users in a given area, was in commercial trials with sports teams and billboard owners when the Snowden allegations hit. After fresh debate by top management and the board on whether selling even anonymous data on customers was a good move, the company decided to go ahead with it, said Colson Hillier, a Verizon executive. “Privacy is a hot button issue right now, but we think we can take a leadership stance,” Hillier said. “It’s not a reputational risk if you do it right and are pro-active in communication with consumers and policy makers.” Other telecom companies took the opposite tack, casting themselves as better guardians of customer data than internet companies like Google, which use it to target advertising. Deutsche Telekom, for example, last year launched an encrypted “Email made in Germany” service and a secure communications link for small businesses to ward off hackers or spooks. “Protection of the private sphere is a valuable commodity,” its CEO said.


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