Bell’s controversial “Big Brother” privacy policy

Personalized advertisements based on monitoring customer cellular and data usage

By: Allie Brogan, Staff Writer

Bell Canada is set to introduce a new privacy policy on Nov. 16 that will effect roughly 7.7 million customers. Bell has decided to start tracking the cellular activity of its customers in order to customize advertisements and marketing.

Canada’s privacy regulator is now completing an investigation into the new policy.

Information that Bell collects will be sourced from web pages users visit from their mobile devices or home Internet, search terms used, location, app usage, television viewing and calling patterns.

This information is already currently being collected, says Bell. It plans to use this tactic to make the user experience more enjoyable. It claims that it will be targeting “broad audience segments” and not specific people.

“I believe we’re completely on side with any guideline,” Wade Oosterman, president of Bell Mobility, said. “We’re actually doing something that consumers generally are in favour of and want.”

While some customers may have discomfort with the thought of a company tracking their every virtual move, users cannot forget that many free services used every day are already using tracking systems. Google, Twitter and Facebook are among the many free services that have already been using users’ search habits to customize advertisements to them.

But if you are a less accepting customer of this trend Bell is giving a way to opt out of the service. You may choose to not have your information used to customize advertisements sent to you, however Bell will still be tracking you because the company uses it to improve service.

Apart from just getting a rise out of some customers, intellectual property lawyer David Fewer makes a point to ask if Bell is keeping its responsibility as a service provider.  “They’re no longer acting as that big dumb pipe that’s just focused on offering the best Internet service it can. Now it’s focused on content,” he said to the Financial Post.

Bell users will be getting text and mail notifications to alert them that this new privacy setting will be activated. The notification will come with an opt out option.


Allie Brogan is a Toronto freelance writer with an education in broadcast journalism; with a highlighted interest in business news.

Photo courtesy to thestar.com & financialpost.com

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