It seems that the London Met Police isn’t content with spying on a mere 57,000 people, it has now emerged that they considered buying access to innocent citizen’s private data including; gender, age, citizen’s postcodes, who they made phone calls to and when, and even details of their web and app usage.
The Sunday Times claims that market research company Ipsos Mori in conjunction with EE, the UK’s largest mobile operator, placed shoppers on Oxford Street under covert surveillance.
The Sunday Times reports:
As they emerged into daylight and pulled out their smartphones, the websites they visited were being monitored en masse.
The surveillance was part of a trial by Ipsos Mori, the pollster and opinion research company, to snoop on the habits of millions of EE phone customers. They could monitor how many of the phone users checked their Facebook accounts, or the website of their favourite shop.
Ipsos Mori was delighted with the results. In a deal with EE – Britain’s biggest mobile phone company, formed in 2010 from a merger between Orange and T-Mobile – the polling firm had purchased the exclusive use of the phone data and the test run in central London had shown its potential.
The report also claims that Ipsos Mori attempted to sell citizen’s personal data to the Met Police, allowing them to track a user’s location within 100 metres.
Ipsos MORI also allegedly ran another location-tracking trial last summer on Olympic visitors and shoppers, with a document claiming: “We can understand not only where people are going, but what they have been doing before, during and after they visited these various locations.”
The company defended their intention to sell personal data, in a statement they said:
In response to the article published today (Sunday 12th May 2013) by the Sunday Times, Ipsos MORI absolutely refutes the suggestion that it is offering access to individual personal data for sale.
In the cutting edge research that Ipsos MORI is doing with EE, the UK’s largest mobile operator, our mobile analytics explore user volume, demographics and mobile web use from anonymised and aggregated groups of people.
However, according to PC Pro:
In Ipsos MORI’s lastest round of results, it claimed to have “the ability to access EE’s entire database and thus to analyse the behaviour of groups of people in real-time”.
Also, T-Mobile (which merged with Orange to form EE) has previously admitted selling data to other companies.