A new company set up by Greek mobile operators received the approval of the local data protection authority, Vodafone Greece announced. Named Tilegnis–Phoreas Ektimisis Pheregyiotitas Tilepikinonion I.K.E., the company is intended to conduct pre-contractual credit checks to verify if customers have debts larger than €200.00 (US $223.00) outstanding for more than 90 days or have past-due debt as a result of non-payment on any mobile account and as a result have been disconnected from that network or transferred to another through number portability. Subscribers will be informed through an account, letter or text message about the impending transfer of their information to the company’s database. Those who will be transferred to another network will be given a grace period. Sources and recipients of the data will be the operators Cosmote, Vodafone, Wind and Cyta Hellas. These companies will consult the data base before establishing a new connection contract for mobile telephony with their customers.
Especially given Greece’s economic difficulties, the creation of this entity seems like a reasonable self-protective move on the part of the Greek MNOs, and we are not surprised to see it approved by the regulatory authorities in that country. It is appropriate and helpful for operators to work together for mutual benefit, and sharing consumer credit data falls into that category. While we are not yet certain as to exactly how the process will work, it appears that the operators are planning to trade customers among themselves based on credit qualifications and debt. That could be a win-win for the operators while ensuring that customers remain connected, even if not with the original operator of their choice. On the other hand, we can envision scenarios under which it would interfere with free choice in the marketplace and even amount to price fixing. But that would be a matter for Greek law to rule on.