Tuesday, January 29, 2008

We know who you are, and also where you are

Sounds like a gangster or big brother right? This is the exact words that the CEO of China Mobile, Wang Jianzhou, told the delegates at the World Economic Forum held in Davos. The admission sent shivers through an audience of telecom experts at the World Economic Forum who immediately saw the potential for misuse and surveillance.

The head of China Mobile went on to say that the company had unlimited access to the personal data of its customers and they will hand the data over to the Chinese security officials when demanded. Wang was surely speaking in the context of mobile advertising and clarifying how the company could use the personal data of its customers to sell advertising and services to them based on knowledge of where they were and what they were doing.

The ability for China Mobile to pinpoint this with accuracy is nothing new. Its not like a new technology that they had developed to track and monitor their users. All the operators in the world have such capabilities and many of them had actually provided similar services ie, a mobile locator to locate your friends and family members. In fact mobile locator is a popular service in Hong Kong for some users to locate their cheating partners. Surely the expert must had came across such services and isnt this what location based services is all about...

Wang could had picked a better way to say it but there is nothing alarming of his statement afterall he is saying what all operators in the world are capable of doing.

As for handing over the data to the government, what do you expect China Mobile to do? I m sure being a quasi state-owned company, they are under some obligation to assist the government.

My take on this is that the Chinese officials should be more tactful in making comments at such international events where reporters and analysts are just waiting for an opportunity like this to create a story and I m sure whatever negative stories on China will surely be a major headline.

No comments: