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Europe’s four largest telecom operators to form digital identification joint venture

The Commission received a notification of a proposed concentration pursuant to Article 4 of Council Regulation (EC) No 139/2004 by which Deutsche Telekom AG, Orange S.A., Telefónica, S.A., and Vodafone Group Plc plan to create a jointly controlled, full-function joint venture within the meaning of Article 3(1)(b) and 3(4) of Council Regulation (EC) No 139/2004 via their respective subsidiaries.

The business activities of the Parties are:

– Deutsche Telekom. Deutsche Telekom, headquartered in Bonn, Germany, is a multinational telecommunications operator with activities in more than 50 countries worldwide, serving customers mainly in Europe (including Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia) and the US. Deutsche Telekom focuses on the provision of mobile and/or fixed telecommunication services, but also offers, for example, internet access, IPTV and IT products.

Orange. Orange, headquartered in Issy-les-Moulineaux, France, is a multinational telecommunications operator with activities in 27 countries worldwide (in Europe including Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Spain). Orange provides a wide range of electronic communications services mainly in the area of fixed and mobile telecommunications and internet access, but is also a provider of telecommunication services to multinational companies under the brand Orange Business Services.

Telefónica. Telefónica, headquartered in Madrid, Spain, is a multinational telecommunications operator and mobile network provider with activities mainly in Europe (Spain and Germany), the United Kingdom and South America. Telefónica operates under a number of brands, including Movistar, Virgin Media, O2 and Vivo, representing mobile, fixed, internet and television services.

Vodafone. Vodafone, headquartered in London, United Kingdom, is a multinational telecommunications operator with activities in 21 countries predominantly in Europe and Africa. Vodafone is primarily active in the provision of mobile telecommunication services, such as voice telephony, messaging, data and content services, but also provides fixed telecommunication services, including telephony and broadband internet access, as well as retail television and technology services.

Upon closing, the Parties will acquire joint control over and equal shares in the JV. The JV will offer a privacy-led, digital identification solution to support the digital marketing and advertising activities of brands and publishers. Subject to explicit user consent provided to a brand or publisher (on an opt-in basis only), the JV will generate a secure, pseudonymized token derived from a hashed/encrypted pseudonymous internal identity linked to a user’s network subscription which will be provided by participating network operators. This token will allow the brand/publisher concerned to recognize a user without revealing any directly identifiable personal data and thereby enable them to optimize the delivery of online display advertising and perform site/app optimization. Users will have access to a user-friendly privacy portal. They can review which brands and publishers they have given consent to, and withdraw their consent.

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