I use my cellphone a lot. It’s an Android-based BlackBerry (which I love) and, sometimes, it's difficult to think of life without such a powerful tool on hand. I don’t have a ton of apps on my phone, so trying to keep track of which app is collecting my personal information is a little simpler for me than for those of you who cram tons of apps onto your phones. Moreover, being a bit of a privacy nerd, I pay attention (at least somewhat) to the permissions I grant. I know full well, of course, that most people out there don’t pay attention. That’s a concern. When they click “I agree,” is that really meaningful consent or apathy?
In the news this week is the story about how InMobi has been fined $1.3 million by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for deceptively collecting personal information of cellphone users. It seems that most of the complaint centered around how the ad company collected geolocation data even when the phone’s user had taken steps to prevent it. InMobi is not a Canadian company. It’s not even an American company. But it does purport to place ads on more than a billion cellphones. Surely, there are reasonable grounds to think that Canadians' personal information was also collected illegally. Should I file a complaint or should you? Will Commissioner Therrien initiate his own investigation into this? Part of me hopes that there is a Canadian investigation into the matter, but another part of me thinks, "Why bother?" If the FTC fined InMobi $1.3 million for violation of American privacy laws, what can we do in Canada to really enforce our rights? Make a recommendation? C’mon. I don't want to have to go back to a landline.
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