Sunday, December 3

A “super cookie” that cannot be blocked: Vodafone wants operators to take over tracking for ads

User tracking for ads wants to scale to another level. Vodafone has introduced a new identification system for advertising. A “super cookie” capable of identifying all customers and selling that information to advertisers. A centralization of the current system, which works through the browser and different companies.

Vodafone is not alone in its proposal. In Germany they have already started testing this system together with Deutsche Telekom and they are in talks with other operators in Europe to try to implement this mechanism. A system that generates multiple doubts at the level of privacy and that has already been criticized by activists in defense of digital rights such as patrick breyer.

TrustPid: a “super cookie” at operator level

Vodafone’s system is called TrustPid and it works like a cookie but at the service provider (ISP) level. This causes cannot be rejected from the browsernor block through adblock or IP address masking.

The idea is that the operator we have is in charge of assign a fixed IP to each client and associate the activity of the user. From this information, the operator will create a personal profile and help advertisers to serve targeted ads, theoretically without revealing any identifying details of the user.


The advertising sector and advertisers are in a period of exploration. Google has come up with its own system for Chrome, Apple is blocking tracking, and the industry is still unclear on how cookies will work for years to come. In the midst of this debate, Vodafone postulates itself as a spokesperson for the operators and proposes a system that manages to overcome the blockers of ads.

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“Consumers like the idea of ​​a ‘free’ internet, but this comes with something in return: publishers need a sustainable revenue model, so adding a subscription to paywalls or relying on advertising to maintain free access to high quality content”, they explain from TrustPid.

In Germany the media do not want Google to kill cookies.  And they are putting pressure on the European Union to prevent it.

Vodafone explains the following regarding privacy:

“TrustPid is a unique and secure digital ‘token’ that is generated by assigning random numbers, reducing the risk of being directly identified while giving advertisers and publishers the ability to personalize your experience across their sites with your consent”.

Although, defenders of digital rights point out the dangers of this method. As Patrick Breyer describes for Bleeping Computer: “Personality profiling, even covering political views, sexual orientation, or medical conditions, is a risk to privacy but also to national security, where officials can be blackmailed, and also for democracy, where elections and referendums can be manipulated. A unique ID would allow us to monitor our entire digital lives. These schemes are totally unacceptable, and the trials must stop.”

Image | itravelNZ
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