Regulator warns of mobile Internet privacy concerns

Searching on the Internet via a mobile phone poses higher privacy-related concerns than traditional computer-based queries, according to the Italian authority for the protection of personal data.

Using a search engine on a mobile handset makes available a larger amount of personal data, allowing for easier identification and location of a user. Specifically, by matching the information collected by search engines and the particular data collected by Telecom networks, “it is possible to have a very accurate profile of a user, namely in terms of localisation,” warned Giovanni Buttarelli, secretary general of the Italian Data Protection Authority, after a meetingexternal in the EU Parliament on privacy and the Internet on 28 May, 2008.

Mobile Internet is considered the future of the Web. Yahoo! predicts that in less than ten years, the majority of Internet users are expected to access the net via their mobile handsets (see EurActiv 15/05/08).

Privacy concerns related to the Internet mainly arise from social networking websites and search advertising. The latter is based on user profiles assembled by search engine operators by putting together personal information such as query histories, geographical locations and IP addresses.

The effectiveness of targeting specific consumers makes search advertising more valuable than traditional display ads based on banners aimed at non-specific users.

……. the story continues….

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