Vodafone 360 launch – questions on privacy

Vodafone 360 Audio Boo
Listen: Vodafone 360 Audio Boo
Last night I attended the Vodafone 360 global launch party in Shoreditch, London (not quite as huge as it sounds, but fun none the less). Vodafone describe the new service as:

Vodafone 360 is a brand new set of internet services for the mobile and PC which gathers all of a customer’s friends, communities, entertainment and personal favourites (like music, games, photos and video) in one place

The emphasis is on the social element of mobile and internet usage and the ability to sync (or bring together) your different contacts and social presence on different sites together with your mobile contacts.

Christian Payne (aka Documentally) interviewed mobile guru Helen Keegan and I on our thoughts of the new service, and in particular some of our concerns about privacy.

>> Listen here.

I had three main queries:

  1. Did it sync with Gmail?
  2. Where was the data saved – on the phone, in the cloud, on a Vodafone server?
  3. How were privacy standards of users maintained, both of 360 service users and their contacts?

In the interview Helen made some interesting points about whether such concerns over privacy are cultural, and pointed out that they very much greater in the UK than they are in other countries.

Terence Eden of Vodafone kindly got back to me on these queries via Twitter as follows:

documentally – RT @edent: I heard all 16mins of http://boo.fm/b65672 @Kcorrick yes, it supports Gmail. Stored securely in cloud. Privacy v important

edent – @kcorrick privacy needs to be front & centre – also needs tight user friendly controls. I know we comply with DPA etc.

edent – @kcorrick FYI the guy managing Vodafone People is @alexfc – he should know the answers to your privacy questions.

These are encouraging signs and it’s fantastic that people like Terence are engaged to respond personally. This isn’t just an issue specific to Vodafone. As more and more of our data gets brought together like this – sometimes unbeknownst to us on services our friends and contacts use – we need to be aware of what’s going on, what controls we have over the information, who owns it and how it can be used, and whether we are comfortable with the answers we receive.