Top European telcos come together to build a huge online ad network

Vodafone logo
(Image credit: / viewimage)

Four of the biggest telecoms companies in Europe are forming a new alliance to create a vast network of targeted advertising.

Vodafone Group is leading the venture, which also consists of Deutsche Telekom, Orange and Telefónica, and will allow customers to opt-in to sharing their phone numbers with other brands so that they can advertise to them. 

The move has been approved by the European Commission, which says it is satisfied the plan adheres to its General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), stating that it will, "allow brands and publishers to recognize users on their websites or applications on a pseudonymous basis, group them under different categories and tailor their content to specific users' groups."

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Networks vs big tech

Vodafone explained that ""The platform is specifically designed to offer consumers a step change in the control, transparency and protection of their data, which is currently collected, distributed and stored at scale by major, non-European players."

This is in reference to big tech companies, whom the EU has been unhappy with for years due to their dominance and policies regarding data collection and user privacy. Recently, the it conceived new legislation to reign in the power of Apple, Google and Meta.

Speaking on this new venture, the EU found that there was no issue of unfair competitive advantage within Europe. 

The venture, which has yet to be officially names, has already been trialed, and the four companies claim that personalized ads are possible whilst retaining user privacy. 

It will be headquartered in Belgium, which, funnily enough, is home to the headquarters of the EU as well. Each of the telcos will have an equal 25% stake, and there is no confirmed date as to when it will begin. 

Although under the guise of concern for protecting user privacy, the companies are perhaps more concerned about the aforementioned dominance of big tech in their success in monetizing their customers, making use of phone networks to do so without compensating them. 

Again, the EU stepped in, suggesting that Google and others should pay towards building and maintaining networks, such as 5G. Of course, they complained, citing the fact that they all ready pay for other infrastructure costs, such as the underwater cables used for the internet. 

  • If you want to protect your privacy online, then using one of the best VPN services is essential. 
Lewis Maddison
Staff Writer

Lewis Maddison is a Staff Writer at TechRadar Pro. His area of expertise is online security and protection, which includes tools and software such as password managers. 

His coverage also focuses on the usage habits of technology in both personal and professional settings - particularly its relation to social and cultural issues - and revels in uncovering stories that might not otherwise see the light of day.

He has a BA in Philosophy from the University of London, with a year spent studying abroad in the sunny climes of Malta.