Feb 172015
 February 17, 2015  Business

I won’t use his last name here, although it’s in the public records in his filings, but Marc responded to my post yesterday about a small victory for Canadian privacy advocates who challenged Bell’s “Relevant Ads Program” (RAP).

Marc writes to me:

You said:

“This win may not sound huge to the privacy advocate who was largely responsible for achieving this change (a regular reader of PogoWasRight.org who has been keeping me apprised of his efforts all along), but he really should feel quite good that he made some in-roads here.”

At this point in the game, I am unsure how to interpret this. It does appear to be a minor win for those who opted-out, like Mr. Chad Kohalyk. However, there remains other data that Bell is collecting which they did not make mention of. There wasn’t much clarity in this Bell regulatory reply.

As Mr. Chad Kohalyk mentions, he took up Bell’s invitation to contact Bell’s privacy officer just like Bell’s regulatory lawyer said he could (paragraph 54 of the Bell reply):

54. Accessing personal information and privacy policies: At various points in his comments, [Marc] refers to one or more individuals who claim to have had difficulty accessing their personal information with Bell (including Virgin Mobile) or who were not satisfied with the information package they received, or had difficulty obtaining privacy information from Bell personnel. These individuals can contact the Bell Privacy Ombudsman directly at 613-785-*REMOVED* or [email protected] to have any outstanding
concerns addressed.

Hopefully there will be an update and clarity to this soon.

I’ll be honest here, everything I submitted as part of this Public Interest Advocacy Centre and Consumers Association of Canada CRTC process (the PIAC-CAC filing) was really the thoughts, writings and ideas of many people. It took the efforts of quite a few people. All I did was just looked at all the issues and bundled it all together.

The people involved, and who may not even know it are:

-Dr. Christopher Parson and Andrew Hilts from the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs for the creation of the “Access My Info” (AMI) tool. https://openmedia.ca/myinfo

-Mr. Chad Kohalyk who used the Citizen Lab tool to request his info from Bell Canada, and in turn posted the info he received on his blog. This little win likely never would have occurred without the involvement these people. There was absolutely no data to look at. That is, till Chad posted some of the results he received. This person really deserves a thumbs-up.

-A Montreal family who used the Citizen Lab AMI tool and to which Bell actually refused to provide them with their Behavioural Advertising information.

-One can’t ignore PIAC-CAC who started this whole CRTC filing. I don’t have the expertise of dealing with the CRTC. They opened the doors for the public and addressed many of the issues and the regulatory side of it all. Without PIAC and CAC none of this would exist.

-The previous Privacy Commissioner of Canada’s words that more or less stated you have to fight for privacy.

-Dissent Doe of Pogowasright.org. Without Dissent Doe’s blogs and writings, which is what influenced and *put* the fight in me, all the above (everything from the whole group of people) would not have been brought to the table. Without Dissent, I would have just been one of the millions of people who just grumble at what Bell is doing and say/do nothing. So this is another person who gets a big thumbs-up and actually made change.

No matter how we look at it, each group, or person above played a very big role in this minor change. Everyone above is what forced this change and some may not even realise it. It’s a small win, but a group effort and a group win. I was not alone nor solely responsible for anything.

There is still a very big fight here. The CRTC will either close this file and make a ruling or force another round of questions. It isn’t over. Either way, I will be banging on more doors; I’m not stopping with the CRTC. If anything, this new pogo blog post put the fight back in me (trust me when I say, it was all very overwhelming and draining).

And then there are all the people I met due to this PIAC-CAC CRTC filing and who encouraged me to continue with it. Again, I would never have met many people or be invited to meet with people if it wasn’t for the fight Dissent put in me. This alone was a nice and unexpected adventure (and an educational one).

This little win is all of our win. I owe you a big thanks for making it happen, Dissent. You may not realize it, but it really is all due to you, and everyone above. No fight equals flight. Thanks for putting the fight in me, and I’m sure the others who are happy with this minor win thank you as well.

Marc’s post is a good reminder that “it takes a village” of privacy advocates to effect change.  I’m glad that his blog helped inspire Marc to become an activist, but as Marc says, everyone needs to get involved.

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