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Telefonica promises customers more control of own data

* New platform designed to answer questions about growth strategy

* "Aura" allows users to decide whether to share data insights

* Due for launch in key markets in coming year (Adds details of "Aura" app, background)

BARCELONA, Spain, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica announced a new strategy on Sunday promising to give customers back control of their own data with the help of a new digital personal assistant.

The so-called "fourth platform", unveiled in Barcelona ahead of the industry's largest annual trade fair, is Telefonica's answer to questions about its growth strategy after it cut its dividend and announced asset disposals to repay debt last year.

The new app called "Aura", which was developed using Microsoft's artificial-intelligence expertise, allows users to decide whether or not to share insights generated by their data with third parties such as Facebook or Google .

It can also answer questions about Telefonica services, create and track a request or manage access to the customer's wifi router.

"It's a new way of empowering customers," Chief Executive Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete told a news conference ahead of the Mobile World Congress fair. "We are offering that the network belongs to them."

Aura can be used as a phone app and also interacts with Amazon's smart speaker, Echo. It is due to be launched in key markets in the coming 12 months, Telefonica said.

(Reporting by Sophie Sassard; Editing by Georgina Prodhan)