Choiceless choices

A couple of years ago, when I got sick of the trouble Bell was having updating its Internet server, I fled to Rogers. The young man who signed me up assured me that Rogers had its own server and was constantly updating it. Of course, he was lying. Once aboard I could see that Rogers did not have its own server, they used Yahoo. I should have known one telecom was no better than another.

My service has been OK, just the usual blips and hiccups, until a few days ago. Those of you with Rogers will have seen the pop-up declaring that Yahoo and AOL had joined to create Oath, a part of Verizon. And, oh by the way, they would be looking at any and all content I send and receive with a view to learning what I was saying and to whom. If I didn’t agree to their terms of use after some time had passed, they would simply assume I had agreed and continue their eavesdropping at will, so I might as well accept now.

Elsewhere I found a line saying if I wanted to know what private information Rogers already had on me, I could send a message to a specific email address. I got an emailed response and phone number from someone with the unlikely title of Advisor, Office of the President. I phoned and asked if he worked for a president of one of the divisions, but he was evasive. The background noise sounded a lot like a call centre. Maybe title inflation has reached the lower ranks. Turns out what they knew about me was stuff like when I’d made an appointment for a service call. Nothing about my real life as a brigand.

We made an appointment for him to call again this week when he said he would “guide me through” the process to “opt out” and gain more privacy. I was excited to think I was on the way to winning the war with the nosy American behemoths. But, when he called today, he had me go to a site and click on one thing and that was the extent of it. I can’t imagine those few seconds changed much. He said he’d just learned that morning about what he’d showed me and added that he’d get in touch when he knew more. I expect he’ll be President by then and have one of his advisors make the call. Meanwhile, I’m under Oath.

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