It appears Bell is taking another crack at the tracking every customer’s every move thing that went so well a few years ago. And though the end result still sounds like a whole lot of garbage from a consumer point of view (there’s still nothing in it for customers aside from ads the company thinks you’ll like more), it’s at least not as much of a surface level privacy nightmare as the last one. All that basically means is that you’ll have to opt in instead of out and that Bell claims not to be selling your data to third parties directly, but hey, it’s something, I guess.
Canada’s largest telecommunications group is getting mixed reviews for its plan to follow the lead of companies like Google and Facebook in collecting massive amounts of information about the activities and preferences of its customers.
Bell Canada began asking its customers in December for permission to track everything they do with their home and mobile phones, internet, television, apps or any other services they get through Bell or its affiliates.
In return, Bell says it will provide advertising and promotions that are more “tailored” to their needs and preferences.
“Tailored marketing means Bell will be able to customize advertising based on participant account information and service usage patterns, similar to the ways that companies like Google and others have been doing for some time,” the company says in recent notices to customers.
If given permission, Bell will collect information about its customers’ age, gender, billing addresses, and the specific tablet, television or other devices used to access Bell services.
It will also collect the “number of messages sent and received, voice minutes, user data consumption and type of connectivity when downloading or streaming.”
“Bell’s marketing partners will not receive the personal information of program participants; we just deliver the offers relevant to the program participants on their behalf,” the company assures customers.
It’s interesting that Bell’s entire justification for such a massive data grab essentially seems to boil down to well, Facebook is doing it, so why not us, completely ignoring the fact that Facebook isn’t having the best time at the moment. This really isn’t a great look for a company that isn’t exactly well known or beloved for its treatment of customers, to put it mildly.
I hope customers are savvy enough to ignore this program to death. Failing that, I hope Bell does absolutely everything right so I won’t have to write about the inevitable data breach or the part where Bell gets caught doing things they say they’re not doing.