These days, because we live in a free and sovereign nation, many of us might feel that we are due a certain amount of privacy from entities such as our government, the companies we use to access our utilities, our neighbours and others. It's reasonable to assume that businesses, institutions and others won't use data from our habits and preferences against us in annoying and intrusive manners.
However, that isn't always the case. By now, a number of Canadians have likely heard of the latest scandal to come out of TV, Internet and home phone company Bell. Starting in November, the corporation will begin tracking customer information garnered from its various services and using it to better advertise to these clients. The company maintains that this will benefit Canadians in the long run, and they can opt out of the automatic monitoring at any time.
That being said, this practice has left a sour taste in the mouths of many across the nation. So why is this strategy so heavily criticized, and what are the other options Canadians have?
Nothing has changed
Customers have had nearly a week to let this new reality sink in, and the outlook isn't looking much better for Canadians than it did in the early days. According to The Huffington Post Canada, patrons have every right to be outraged, despite claims that this shouldn't be the case because many social media outlets already track behaviours. The source said that the difference is the fact that these services are free - people can use the sites because they essentially "pay" with their data.
Moreover, there have been instances of this type of strategy being taken in the past, to the detriment of companies. The news provider explained that Rogers employed a similar tactic in 1995, but quickly ceased monitoring because out the public backlash.
What can Canadians do?
The Huffington Post Canada suggested that customers let it be known that they're not thrilled about this change and perhaps ask Bell to lower costs in exchange for data sharing. However, that might seem like a long shot.
So, Canadians should be aware that they have a number of other options for connecting to the Internet and home phone services. For instance, an independent Internet service provider would likely not use similar tactics. They're more focused on providing the best possible experience to individual patrons and ensuring that they have access to such services at competitive rates.