Mobile Users to Get More Control of Personal Data

Mobile subscribers will be able to easily control what applications can access their location and other personal information with software that’s now commercially available from Redknee, the mobile infrastructure software vendor said Tuesday.

With the proliferation of services on mobile phones, including ones that use information about a cell phone’s location or a subscriber’s "presence" on instant messaging or other systems, more personal data is going into the back end of the mobile network, said Jeff Popoff, vice president of marketing at Redknee. The company, which already sells carriers software for personalizing mobile data services and simplifying phone-based transactions, now wants to help operators ease concerns about the privacy of that data.

The Mississauga, Ontario, vendor’s Unified Profile Server (UPS) lets a mobile operator centralize control over access to subscriber data that may exist in many different places on its network, Popoff said. With one setup session, the subscriber can set down rules for which applications or vendors can see specific types of information related to user identity. Those could include current location, credit card number, shipping address, phone number, buddy lists and presence, Popoff said.

The user can also ask to be prompted with opt-in choices for information sharing whenever a new application is loaded on the handset. They could grant no access, one-time access or ongoing access to specific kinds of information, Popoff said. In some cases, if another subscriber or application on the network requests a piece of information about the subscriber, the UPS could trigger an SMS (short message service) message asking permission for that data to be provided. The UPS can also be used to block calls, such as when a subscriber doesn’t want to get calls from co-workers on weekends.

Through standardized interfaces among applications, such as those developed by the Parlay Group, it’s possible to make the UPS work with most mobile applications, Popoff said. Variations from standards in some mobile operators’ applications do create challenges, he acknowledged.

One operator group in Europe is already deploying the software, and it is likely to go live there during this quarter, according to Popoff. Europe is likely to lead in adoption of the system because of strict privacy laws there, he said.

Customers of Redknee’s existing personalization and transaction software include Vodafone Group, Cingular Wireless, Canada’s Rogers Communications and T-Mobile USA, Popoff said.

-Stephen Lawson, IDG News Service

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Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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