Bell tracks 'highly sensitive' customer info: Privacy commissioner

REUTERS/Shaun Best

REUTERS/Shaun Best

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:39 PM ET

Canada's privacy commissioner has asked Bell to change its policy of having customers opt out of personal information collection which is used in targeted advertising.

Currently, Bell tracks what customers browse online, what apps they use, what TV shows they watch, as well as customer calling patterns. The information is combined with account data and used to create a relevant advertising program.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner (OPC) said that practice has a significant impact on privacy. "Bell's ad program involves the use of vast amounts of its customers' personal information, some of it highly sensitive," privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien said in a press release on Tuesday.

"Bell should not simply assume that, unless they proactively speak up to the contrary, customers are consenting to have their personal information used in this new way."

"The end result is a rich multidimensional profile that most people are likely to consider highly sensitive," The OPC states.

Customers have to contact Bell to opt out of having this information tracked.

Bell told the OPC customers support the company's position and the opt-out method was appropriate.

The OPC received 170 privacy complaints regarding the program, which it called "unprecedented."

Even customers who chose to opt out were still tracked, the OPC found. Bell built profiles of those customers "just in case they decide to opt back in."

Bell has agreed to stop building the profiles and delete previously collected information.

Bell also agreed to stop included credit scores in customer profiles and will only use partial postal codes in targeted advertising.

If Bell doesn't address the issue of consent, the OPC may take the company to Federal Court.

 


Videos

Photos