Google calling

Google has announced placing calls from inside GMail and I have a bunch of questions.

Perhaps my privacy radar is hyper-sensitive, driven in part by Sarah Schmidt’s article today about Facebook.

So let’s assume that Google allows its users to opt in or out of having their calling patterns tracked. What about the people being called? Do they have privacy rights from this service?

Let’s say that I am not a GMail user. Can Google track information about who calls me? The location that people are seated when they call me? Can Google sell that information to an advertiser who can then match up data about my home – maybe even what websites I visit in my home, the people who call me and where they are calling from?

Will I suddenly get ads from airlines that offer flights to visit LA if Google notices that a phone number registered to my household is receiving calls from a GMail client using a California university IP address? Maybe Google would offer a qualified Direct Mail address list that gets around do-not-call and anti-spam legislation.

Further, the CRTC’s privacy rules likely won’t be able to be applied. Google isn’t a telecom carrier. Although the CRTC may think that it can apply its regulations indirectly, there may not be a Canadian carrier that has any relationship with Google for voice services – Google can purchase all of its Canadian terminations from US service providers that have correspondent relationships.

How will Canada apply its standards of behaviour on this service?

Interestingly, the CRTC will likely have insights into the scale of Google’s operations in Canada. Google’s voice service will not qualify for the computer-to-computer voice exemption for contribution. As such, it appears that Google will be a Telecommunications Service Provider since its service is connected to the Canadian public switched telephone network. Although its non-voice revenues will be exempted from contribution to the universal services subsidy pool, the CRTC may get interesting insights into the scale of Google’s operations in Canada.

More to come later.

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