Privacy Commissioner to Probe Bell’s Data Collection

Canada’s privacy commissioner has announced to launch in an investigation Bell for having had recently informed customers by a letter that it plans to begin collecting detailed information about their consumption habits in order to offer “relevant ads.” A spokesman for the privacy commissioner, Scott Hutchinson, revealed that his office has received numerous complaints on the issue.  It was highlighted that Bell customers received the letter last week alleging that the changes will be enforced on Nov. 16.

A University of Ottawa law professor and technology law specialist, Michael Geist, stated that “they’ll literally know what web pages you visit, which search terms you enter, where you happen to be, what apps you use, what television you watch, even your calling patterns.” He added that “they figure that level of detail will offer up the ability to have highly targeted advertising. They’ll know virtually everything about you.” Geist alleged that though the company has allowed customers the opportunity to opt out until Nov. 16, but many might not be simply aware of what, exactly, they’re really opting out of. Geist further speculated that “as far as I can tell, when you’re opting out, you’re opting out of targeted ads. You’re not opting out of the broader collection more generally.”

Philippe Viel, of the Montreal-based consumer protection group Union des consommateurs, explained the situation even more bluntly, asserting that “the only option to opt out offered is to not receive relevant ads. They’re going to collect the data anyway.”

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