Bell Will Know Virtually Everything About You As It Begins Collecting Data On Nov. 16

Bell notified its customers last week that the company will start collecting detailed information about their consumption habits in order to offer “relevant ads”, beginning November 16. But as the Canadian telecom giant begins to track its customers’ account data such as which products they use, device types, payment patterns, language preferences, gender and age, technology law specialist Michael Geist believes the carrier will know “virtually everything about you”.

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According to CBC News, customers have until Nov. 16 to opt out, but Geist says they may not be aware of what, exactly, they’re really opting out of. He notes that when users opt out, they’re opting out of targeted ads only, and not “opting out of the broader collection more generally”. Consumer protection group Union des consommateurs representative says “The only option to opt out offered is to not receive relevant ads. They’re going to collect the data anyway”.

The weirdest thing of all however is Bell’s refusal to an interview request from CBC. Instead, the carrier issued the following statement:

“What’s new is that we’re giving Bell customers the option to receive Internet advertising that’s relevant to them rather than the random online advertising they’re receiving now. The number of ads customers see won’t increase and they can opt-out anytime by visiting bell.ca/relevantads. We’re giving customers advance notice before we start offering relevant advertising on Nov. 16.”

Commenting on the statement, Geist says customers should be asked to opt in, rather than opt out. Both Geist and Viel say that the monitoring, while not currently performed by other Canadian telecoms, sets “a dangerous precedent”.

“That’s not what they’re doing,” he says. “They’re forcing people to opt out, and making the default that everybody gets monitored and tracked.”

Viel says that mobile providers are prone to following industry trends, and that it may just be a matter of time before other companies start similar programs. Viel says that mobile providers are prone to following industry trends, and that it may just be a matter of time before other companies start similar programs.

Geist also suggests that a regular discount on customers’ monthly bill in exchange for participating in the data collection would be a more appropriate course of action.

“Technology runs through my veins...” | Follow me: @DrUsmanQ usman@iPhoneinCanada.ca

  • Al

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Michael Geist is a media whore who thrives on generating hysteria and spreading misinformation.

    … “Bell Will Know Virtually Everything About You” … give me a break.

    … “collecting ‘detailed’ information” … really. My browsing habits are not exactly what I would call “detailed” information.

    Also, as I’ve said before, your cosco, shoppers drug mart, president’s choice, and other store loyalty cards collect WAAAAYYYY more information than something like Bell, Google, or facebook could ever hope to.

  • FragilityG4

    Big Brother is watching ….

  • websnap

    Is this Bell Mobility or Bell Home? I have a new Bell Mobility account I just started… is that involved in this?

  • nightfly

    They are collecting crap on me I live in rural Ontario and the closes thing to broadband was Bell WiMAX. When purchase over 5 years ago they were suppose to be able monitor data usage because I had, I think, a 30 GB limit before overage charges applied. To this day the dummies at Bell can not monitor my data usage, lucky me. So how the hell are they going to monitor what I am doing. Even if they could, they are going be shock at how much porn one man can watch.