The answer to the question that many of us ask ourselves each day, "Is there anything that is private any more," the answer is an easy, and resounding, No! The government spying is bad enough, although sometimes I think society has given them no other choice – have you seen the bombings and shootings going on out there…it is down right frightful. However, the biggest intruder to our privacy are probably the advertisers. Everybody wants a piece of our residual income, and they are willing to pay big bucks in order to get it – just ask Google, whose main business is advertising.
So the move that Rogers made in October to offer you "Personalized Offers" and Bell's recent announcement to do the practically same thing should come as no surprise to the consumers or advocacy groups. Rogers made their efforts sound rather noble by calling it – Rogers Alerts – and forcing you to opt-in to receive them. Rogers' approach is much like in the U.S., where iBeacon, Qualcomm's Gimbal Proximity Beacons, and Datzing, send out an advertisement as your device passes by the store location where you can make the purchase – such as walking past a Starbucks and getting an offer for $2.00 off your next latte.
In November, Bell did an adjustment to their terms and conditions – you know, the kind of thing that we never read – and it said that they would use:
"…certain information about your account and network usage for select purposes, such as continuing to improve network performance and product offers through new business and marketing reports, making some of the ads and marketing partner offers you see more relevant to you, and providing increased levels of fraud detection and prevention."
When questioned about their right to do that, Bell simply directed customers how to opt-out of this process. This did not sit right with the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) and the Consumers' Association of Canada (CAC) and they filed an application with the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) complaining that the way Bell is collecting data is "unprecedented" and "is contrary to Canadian telecommunications policy."
A spokesperson for the CAC claims that Bell is trying to "double dip" by taking the users' subscription fees and then selling the personal information to advertisers. Also, asking customers to "opt-out" of a program that they never asked for is wrong. The consumer groups are asking for feedback from Canadians and wants them to submit their opinions on the issue.
Please let us know on our Google+ Page how you feel about our invasion of privacy from our own carriers – are you surprised by it, and does it even bother you. Do you like having the advertising geared toward your likes and dislikes, or would you prefer none at all.