Bell would like to expand its access to the data of its customers

Bell aimerait élargir son accès aux données de ses clients

Photo: Darryl Dyck, The Canadian Press
When the permission is given by the customer, Bell collection, the “number of messages sent and received, minutes voice, data volumes used and the type of connectivity used for download or streaming”.

The largest telecommunications group in Canada is the subject of criticism because of the implementation of a plan, inspired by companies such as Google and Facebook and intends to collect a mass of information on the activities and preferences of its customers.

Bell Canada has begun asking its customers, in December, the permission to track and collect data on their usage of their fixed phone and cell phone, Internet, tv, applications, or any other service provided by Bell or one of its affiliates.

In return, Bell says it will provide advertisements and promotions best suited to their needs and preferences. “The principle of personalized marketing allows Bell to target its advertisements based on the account of the participant and its usage patterns, a bit like doing it for a while companies like Google,” said the company in recent notice provided to its customers.

When the permission is given, Bell collects information on the age, sex, and the billing addresses of its customers, as well as on tablets, tvs or other devices used to access services provided by Bell.

The company also collects the ” number of messages sent and received, minutes voice, data volumes used and the type of connectivity used for download or streaming “.

“Marketing partners Bell will not receive the personal information of the participants of the program, we relaierons simply their offers to the participants,” says the company to its customers.

Risk to the privacy

Teresa Scassa, a law professor at the University of Ottawa and holder of the Canada research Chair in the political and information law, considers that Bell has clearly explained what she wanted to do.

However, Ms. Scassa points out that Bell customers who join the new program may disclose personal information of commercial value in exchange for little or nothing, while increasing the risks to their privacy and their security.

“Here is a company that operates all of the personal information that concern me, all of the activities that I lead and that monetizes. That is what I get in return ? Better ads ? Really ? Is that all ? Why not have the best price ? “

The consultant toronto-Charlie Wilton, whose firm has already advised Bell and Rogers in the past, says that there is “a ton” of evidence showing that consumers are increasingly aware of the value of their personal information.

“In a perfect world, they would give discounts or points that consumers would like a more concrete manner, rather than just eliminate an item unpleasant — they currently offer,” said Mr. Wilton.

Ms. Scassa said that it is also necessary to take into account some of the problems of privacy and security. More broadly, the security of the data of Bell and could be exploited by hackers. From a more personal point of view, she adds, there is a risk of friction family if everyone starts to receive ads based on the activities of another member of the family.

Ads for pornography, birth control, or services for assault victims, for example, could trigger confrontations. “Some families are open and share. Others are experiencing tensions and violence “, said Ms. Scassa.

According to Mr. Wilton, a company in the position of the Bell also runs the risk that customers may feel betrayed if their information is disclosed, or if the ads they receive are inappropriate. In the era of social media, “he said,” a leak or a transgression is amplified a million times “.

For his part, the spokesperson of Bell, Nathan Gibson, noted in an email that his customers are not obliged to register to its new marketing program and that they can subsequently withdraw it in adapting their instructions to the company.

No complaints for now

A spokesman for the federal commissioner for the protection of the private life said they had not received a complaint regarding the new program of Bell.

However, Tobi Cohen noted that Bell had removed and replaced its previous program relevant ads to its mobile service, after the commission had concluded in 2015 that unsatisfied customers should not be forced to take the initiative to withdraw.

Ms. Cohen added that the commission for the protection of the private life had not reviewed the new marketing program ” custom “, but that the federal law on the protection of privacy governing the private sector organizations included many of the requirements.

Among other things, the organizations have to explain what are the risks of harm that may be incurred by the collection, use or disclosure of such information “.

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