Telefónica withdraws 'Big Data' service from German market

Telefónica's O2 Germany said it has no plans to sell anonymous customer location data to retailers there after the operator received strong pushback from the government following consumer privacy worries.

The company says its "Smart Steps" service, which aims to interpret, analyse and then sell the anonymous data of O2 customers to retailers and public sector organisations, is not expanding to Germany. "Privacy and customer satisfaction is a top priority for Telefónica, and after feedback from our customers we have now decided not to introduce Smart Steps in Germany," a company spokesperson told

This comes after Telefónica Digital announced last month that its newly formed Dynamic Insights unit would shortly offer anonymous customer data--often known as Big Data--to organisations in the UK, Germany and Brazil. Trials of Smart Steps were said to be underway in the UK with a launch expected this month.

The German government said that an exception to the use of this customer data would be possible for value-added services such as monitoring traffic flow, provided the data had been made anonymous or that the subscriber had given permission for the location data to be used in this manner. "The trade in location data is generally prohibited," a spokesman for the German Ministry of Economy told Financial Times Deutschland.

The government said this move to restrict customer data usage was in line with other European Union countries, adding that the Federal Network Agency, or Bundesnetzagentur, was expected to take appropriate steps to control the use of anonymous customer location data, according to Telecom Paper.

To help develop its Dynamic Insights portfolio, Telefónica Digital has agreed a global partnership with the German marketing research firm GfK.

For more:
- see this article (translated via Google Translate)
- see this Financial Times Germany (translated via Google Translate)
- see this Telecom Paper article (sub. req.)

Related Articles:
Telefónica's O2 to sell customer location data to retailers
Verizon's Hillier discusses data privacy and the future of mobile marketing
Telefónica Digital unveils new strategy, partners with Facebook and Google
Telefónica takes on OTT players with new 'TU Me' messaging app
Report: Family locator services to reach 70M users in Europe, N. America by 2016