- Yesterday, Wednesday, October 23 in their Marketing column the Globe and Mail reported the horrifying news that on November 16, 2013, Bell plans to start using your private data as the basis of their “targeted ads” campaign in the interests of “serving you better”. Michael Geist puts the lie to Bell’s “customers want this” claim, stating that if it were so, the campaign would have been “opt in” and not “opt out” (http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/6979/125/)
According to the report, Bell will use your personal information such as your television viewing habits, what you search for on the web, who you call on your phone or mobile, your on-line purchases, and any other information they can glean from your use of any communications you make using their network to target ads at you. I don’t know about you, but I did not sign any contract with them which allowed them to invade my private life and space!
I can see it now: ads aimed at you that promote porn sites if you were ever unfortunate enough to end up on such a site. That way, you can also share all the ads you receive with anyone who also shares you computer, like your kids, your wife, your mother, or your significant other. How about the person you are living with starting to receive ads for dating sites when they were not the one looking? This also reminds me of the marketing campaigns by some hotels years ago who sent former guests thank you letters for the recent stay by you and your wife. However, when reading the mail, your wife did not remember going to that hotel. There are hundreds of other scenarios that I believe can illustrate how bad this idea is. As someone else commented: “The fact that they are going to be tracking my 13 year old daughter is just plain creepy.”
I can also imagine the class action law suits that Bell can deal with from various groups complaining about the misuse of “targeted ads”.
BTW, their “anonymizing” of your data is nonsense. There already exist techniques for analyzing data to uniquely identify users, even without information like names and addresses. For example, if the same IP address is used to send emails to a number of people, then the originating source can be identified by being the one person in common amongst all the people contacted.
There is also misleading statement in the article about opting out of this “service.” I immediately went to the URL http://bell.ca/relevantads and tried to opt out of all such “targeted ads,” However, the only thing that they let me enter was my mobile phone number. This implies that this opt-out facility was only good for my mobile phone use. However, the article in the Globe stated that the use of targeted ads applied to all my devices, including my TV, my phone, my Internet connection, and who I call on my land-line. Given that their reporter was told by Bell that the use of “targeted ads” covered their whole range of products, the reporter was mislead, if not lied to, about being able to opt-out of everything. Bell Canada should be called on their misleading statement and reprehensible behaviour.
Please write to newspapers, blog about this invasion of your privacy, tweet about it to your friends, family and acquaintances, and contact you MPP and MP. Let Bell know in no uncertain terms that what they plan is totally unacceptable!
Finally, this posting uses some strong language, but here at http://WizOf.Biz we take privacy very seriously. I believe notifying others about this issue is worth writing about and bending our own rules about “rants” on our blog.
Other good discussions on this subject can be found at: http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/6979/125/ and https://secure.dslreports.com/forum/r28755397-Bell-Expands-Its-Consumer-Monitoring-and-Profiling
Reg Charney, CEO, WizOf.Biz