The platform for Belgium's international community

Search form

menu menu
  • Daily & Weekly newsletters
  • Buy & download The Bulletin
  • Comment on our articles

Proximus sells user data to third parties, including police

16:38 06/11/2019

Mobile service provider Proximus has admitted that customers cannot opt out of data collection services that are sold to third parties. Last week the company had said that it was possible to opt out when the news broke that customers’ whereabouts and spending habits were being tracked.

Proximus has been selling data on their customers for the last five years to companies, governmental organisations, marketing firms and even law enforcement. Many customers only discovered this last week when news broke that the City of Kortrijk had bought big data analysis to see who was visiting the city and when.

Proximus creates data profiles that organisations find useful. Kortrijk – and many other municipalities – use Proximus data to see who is coming into the city, from where, at what time, which parts of the city they visit and how long they stay.

Data can even be linked to bank card use to see how much visitors and residents are spending in which parts of the city. “Then we can see why people are coming to the city and which events have brought them here,” economy city councillor Arne Vandendriessche told VRT.

Crowd control

Shopping centres can also use the data “to see how many people are shopping at a specific time,” Proximus spokesperson Fabrice Gansbeke told Bruzz. “Some of our larger civic clients are Visit Brussels and Brussels Major Events. We also have ongoing contracts with city councils where we deliver monthly reports.”

The police also use the heat maps developed by Proximus to see how many people are gathering at an event or protest at any given time. This assists them with crowd control.

Last week a Proximus spokesperson told Bruzz that users could opt out of big data analysis. “Every has the right to opt-out,” said a spokesperson. “That is required by GDPR laws.”

That appears to not be the case, however, and Proximus corrected the information. “Telecoms regulations allow us to bundle anonymous profiles and does not require an opt-out option,” the spokesperson said. “But we are looking into the possibilities of implementing one.”

While users of Orange and Telenet are not included in this data, each of these providers has smaller-scale data collection initiatives.

Written by Lisa Bradshaw

Comments

shirley.foxcastle

This news is rather disturbing. Big brother...

But what disturbs me even more is the widespread use of "log-in/check-in/opt-out” as verbs and not just as nouns. I suspect this trend has come from the USA. ("Every(one) has the right to opt-out"...) At least in the UK, the stressed syllable shifts. But English is now a world language reduced to its lowest common denominator. Not the journalist's fault!

Nov 7, 2019 10:09
Anon3

Disgusting, sad and scary but hardly surprising. The Belgian government is majority shareholder of Proximus/Belgacom or whatever name they come up with. European consumer protection laws are routinely flouted/laughed-off by every Belgian government. (Think of the illegal price-fixing practised by any/all supermarkets, insurance companies etc. in Belgium). This is just more of same. Consumers/citizens are just seen as easy targets, sitting ducks (pigeons in French). In other countries there would be widespread protests by consumer groups and consumers. No fear of that in Belgium, which is why the government(s) knows they can get away with flouting the EU consumer protection laws.

Nov 7, 2019 12:34