CRTC Dismisses Consumer Complaint vs Bell’s Targeted Ad Program

In a ruling issued today, the CRTC dismissed a consumer interest group complaint (PIAC and CAC) about Bell Mobility, Solo Mobile, and Virgin Mobile’s collection and use of customer information for the Relevant Advertising Program (RAP). The reason: the RAP has been withdrawn; hence, the issues raised by the consumer group were moot (via the Globe and Mail).


You may recall that in the fall of 2013, BCE launched the RAP, causing an uproar among customers as it used the collected data for various reasons. The problem was that all customers were automatically included in the program by default.

After notifying customers about the program, the CRTC received about 100 complaints related to Bell’s collection and use of the data. Shortly afterwards, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) launched a lengthy investigation, which published its findings in April.

Meanwhile, consumer groups PIAC and CAC filed an application with the CRTC on January 27, 2014, requesting for the regulator to prohibit Bell from collecting and using customer information for the aforementioned RAP program.

The OPC found that Bell failed to obtain adequate consent from customers and advised Bell to give an express opt-in choice in regard to the use of their data in the program. Three days after the OPC report, on April 10, Bell informed the OPC that its disputed RAP program had been completely withdrawn.

It took some time, but the CRTC has finally responded to the PIAC and CAC complaint, dismissing it. Since privacy remains an important concern for Canadians, the regulator promised to actively monitor privacy-related issues as they emerge.

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