‘I Accept’ because we have no choice

If you are a Rogers Communication Inc. customer you will have received the notice to read and accept new terms and conditions to continue to be a Roger’s customer. You will also have no choice but to click the ominous button, “I Accept” and agree to everything written by Rogers’ legal department for their sole benefit.
In the April 23, 2018 issue of the Globe and Mail, writer Christine Dobby took the time to read the 27-page legal document and what she found should have all of us in an uproar.
Buried half way through was a particular clause just for Canadian customers. Read it carefully, “By using the services you agree that you have obtained the consent of your friends and contacts to provide their personal information (for example: their email address or telephone number) to Oath or a third party, as applicable, and that Oath or a third party may use your name to send messages on your behalf to make the services available to your friends and contacts.” Oath is a media brand shared by Yahoo, AOL and Rogers.
Since when does a major corporation operating in a country with the rule of law be allowed to unlawfully collect and use personal data and then transfer the liability for the crime to their innocent customers?
Our privacy laws are very clear in Canada. Companies cannot send commercial information to someone’s personal contact information without individual consumer consent.
This Rogers’ example is even more nefarious when you think about their business model. Customers pay dearly to actually use their services.
In contrast, Facebook and Google can argue that their business model is a quid pro quo. The service is free in exchange for access to your personal data for their profit.
Good grief, the US is still going through the whole debacle around Cambridge Analytica, Facebook and the hacking of an American presidential election, yet Rogers Communication is so brazen that at precisely the same time, they are doing an end run to legitimize the same type of behaviour and outcome.
If they are successful, I’m sure Telus and Bell subscribers will be forced into accepting a similar clause.
The government and CRTC need to immediately move to strengthen our laws. Privacy regulations must make Roger’s latest attempt to flaunt Canadian law illegal.
Further, friends and contacts on the devices of others need protection.
I believe people who sign onto free services and benefits, whether Facebook or loyalty cards, do give permission to use their personal data. They know, or at least should know, “nothing is free” in the marketplace.
But there is something fundamentally amoral, unethical and wrong when personal data of third party friends and contacts can be harvested by powerful unknowns to do with as they please.
I also believe revisions to the “I Accept” button need to be made. For example, with every “I accept” button, let’s have a comment line linked to the appropriate regulator, CRTC in this case.
With the ease of algorithms to sort incoming data, government regulators would have an effective tool to quickly identify those corporations and their lawyers attempting to circumvent the spirit and letter of the law.
Today it seems the only way to protect our privacy is to throw out all our devices and friends with devices (which isn’t practical, but some days tempting), move to Europe where they take privacy laws seriously (which would be lovely, but not practical), or for Canadians to just show outrage and collectively hound the death out of all elected politicians until they legislatively stop this insanity.

B.P. Schimke

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