Bell’s Data Grab

[sc:internet-category ]Over on Michael Geist’s blog there’s an article on a change Bell Canada is going to be making in its data collection policy in November.

I use Bell for my TV and Cell Phone, but I certainly don’t want them collecting:

  • Web pages visited from your mobile device or your Internet access at home.
  • This may include search terms that have been used.
  • Location
  • App and device feature usage
  • TV viewing
  • Calling patterns
  • Information about your use of Bell products and services (such as device type, postal code, payment patterns, and language preference)
  • Demographic information such as gender or age range

Which is pretty much everything they can get their hands on.

They say they’re going to use this to:

  • To create business and marketing reports.
  • For other companies to create business and marketing reports.
  • To make ads you see more relevant.
  • To make ads you see more relevant.

I don’t recall asking my cell phone provider to do any of these things 😉

But more importantly, they offer an opt out for only the last item in the list of things they want to do.

To be fair, the text is a little bit foggy on the whole thing, statements like the following from the support site:

If you do not want us to use your information for any of the purposes described above, you can opt out.

Seem to say the data won’t be used for any of the aggregate usage as well as the targeted advertising.  However it still doesn’t say if they will collect it or just not use it.  There is a difference, as we’ve seen with the mass surveillance scandal in the US, the government may ask for data Bell collects without a warrant (or a secret warrant)  and expect to get it, where as if Bell doesn’t collect the information there is no way they can hand it over to the government.

I called Bell’s customer support line and while they tried to be helpful, the first attempt didn’t really get me anywhere as the support rep didn’t have any idea of what I was talking about.  My second attempt had a bit more success and the supervisor assured me that opting out meant they would not use my data in any way other than for billing purposes.  However he couldn’t say if they still collected the data or not.  He did provide the address of the Customer Relations department, and I mean address, not e-mail or web site, and suggested I write them to get clarification on the question.

The letter will be in the mail shortly 🙂

If Bell doesn’t clarity what the opt out option really means, I’ll have to make a hard choice of either accepting the change or leaving Bell for my cell phone and TV.  My service provider should be providing me the services I pay for, not try to co-opt my personal information for their own monetary gain.

Greg

Greg is the head cat at JumbleCat, with over 20 years of experience in the computer field, he has done everything from programming to hardware solutions. You can contact Greg via the contact form on the main menu above.

More Posts - Website

Greg

Greg is the head cat at JumbleCat, with over 20 years of experience in the computer field, he has done everything from programming to hardware solutions. You can contact Greg via the contact form on the main menu above.