Orange, Vodafone Group, Deutsche Telekom and Telefonica applied to the European Commission (EC) for approval to form a joint venture aimed at supporting targeted advertising services by third parties, including various privacy elements for consumer control.

The quartet are yet to make a detailed public statement about the move, but the EC filing on the proposal supplied an outline of the plan with the authority’s competition policy chiefs working to a provisional deadline of 10 February.

A Vodafone representative told Mobile World Live the parties would not be commenting on the proposed JV while the EC was considering the application.

The filing shows the venture would be equally owned and controlled by the four.

If approved, it is set to offer what is described as a “privacy-led, digital identification solution to support the digital marketing and advertising activities of brands and publishers”.

The resulting product is expected to require explicit consent to brands and publishers from users, with an individual’s identity protected from the advertiser.

Consumers will be able to use a privacy portal to withdraw consent at any time.

“The JV will generate a secure, pseudonymised token derived from a hashed/encrypted pseudonymous internal identity linked to a user’s network subscription which will be provided by participating network operators,” the entry added, noting the token would enable brands to recognise a user without revealing personal data.

Vodafone has already held a trial with various partners including advertisers, publishers and Deutsche Telekom for a targeted advertising system in Germany under the brand TrustPid.

The TrustPid website notes it “allows consumers to enjoy free content and the benefits of the open internet while maintaining control over their privacy”.

Vodafone’s trial was designed to test the technical feasibility of the cross-operator platform and has likely formed the basis of the joint venture being proposed.