#CyberFLASH: Bell faces $750 million lawsuit over targeted ad program

bellThe battle over BCE Inc.’s contentious targeted advertising program is moving into the courtroom after a $750-million class action lawsuit was filed against its Bell Mobility and Bell Canada units.

Court documents filed with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice allege that the Mississauga, Ont.-based subsidiaries of BCE breached contractual obligations, privacy laws and the Telecommunications Act resulting from their “unauthorized use and disclosure of [clients’] personal information” to a third party without explicit consent. By doing so for a fee, Bell was “unjustly enriched” and ought to be financially liable for “the anguish, suffering and distress” caused by its “unlawful intrusion,” the filings state.

Bell spokesperson Jacqueline Michelis declined to comment on the lawsuit, filed Thursday.

Ted Charney of Toronto’s Charney Lawyers, one-half of the counsel representing plaintiff Settimo Tocco, a Bell Mobility client with data service who resides in Windsor, Ont., estimates as many as five million of Bell’s 7.9 million wireless customers were tracked under the so-called Relevant Advertising Program (RAP) through their use of Internet data, making this “the largest privacy breach ever ” in Canada.

“We think there’s going to be some damages awarded to each class member, and the real question is ‘what’s the amount going to be?’” Charney said in an interview Friday. “Could be anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to a couple thousand dollars, depending on the nature of the privacy breach and the circumstances of how the breach happened.”

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