Telus Touches Sensitive Verizon Spot: Privacy

by Istvan Fekete on August 8, 2013

The Big Three just cannot stop emphasizing how bad Verizon’s entrance into the local wireless market is for Canadians. After posting aggressive ads claiming that the red US carrier’s foray onto Canadian soil will lead to job losses in the telecom sector, Telus has now found the most sensitive pressure point of the everyday mobile user: privacy.

In the light of the looming PRISM scandal, they couldn’t have found a more current topic. In a recent blog post, Telus’ Shelly Blackburn points to the extensive media coverage of how the bad boy Verizon turns over the telephone records of millions of Americans to the NSA (National Security Agency).

You may recall that the Guardian scratched the surface when it posted a classified order from the Secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which directs Verizon to turn over “on an ongoing daily basis” all call details records or “telephony metadata’s created by the carrier for communication between the US and abroad, or within the country, including local telephone calls.”

But this seems to be different in Canada, at least according to Telus.

They forget however, to mention that the US, British, Australian, New Zealand, and Canadian intelligence services collaborate to such an extent that even if you have nothing to hide, there is nowhere to hide.

But let’s get back to Telus: the carrier claims that it has gone the extra mile in the fight for customer privacy, all the way up to the Supreme Court of Canada back in March 2013. You may recall that they won a wiretap court order that requires officials to present a warrant if they want to obtain data from Telus, which will happily assist them.

Following the Supreme Court’s decision Ann Cavoukian, Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner, sent a letter of compliment to Mr. Entwistle, applauding TELUS’ effort to strengthen privacy protections for citizens across Canada. In it she stated: “As the right upon which our freedoms are based, privacy is deserving of the most rigorous protection. In today’s day and age of electronic communication it is especially vital for technology leaders to commit to the protection of customer privacy and to enforce customer awareness of how their information is used.”

The Canadian government needs to take a hard look at this important issue and ensure that Canadians’ privacy expectations continue to be met; especially if a U.S. communications company sets up shop here. Some U.S. laws, such as Patriot Act, can be quite invasive and could have detrimental impacts on the level of privacy experienced by Canadian wireless users, Shelly Blackburn writes.

While Telus’ win shows the company’s goodwill, lots of questions regarding customer privacy remain unanswered. And only the NSA can answer them, because we have no idea how the collaboration between the countries involved in the PRISM program works.

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Written by: Istvan Fekete. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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