We Take It to the Press Back
The Edmonton Journal, 11/97

In Edmonton, there is no lack of companies providing Internet service. Some are more popular than others, perhaps due to good service, a reasonable price, or a trusted name. Edmontonians may be surprised to learn, however, that one of the most trusted names, Telus, carries with it a most unfriendly demeanor. This is thanks to a new Account Agreement (viewable at www.telusplanet.net/html1/tandc.html) -- a shifty bit of "fine print" which, according to Telus, all customers must agree to.

Section 15 of the agreement, dealing with copyrighted information, warns users that "if you place information, software or any other content in a public area, by doing so, you agree that you have thereby granted TELUS the irrevocable and unrestricted right to copy, distribute, edit, delete, publish and translate such information." Essentially, if you have a web page on Telus' web provider (and all such pages are located in a directory named "public") to show off writing, art, programming, or any other creative endeavour, you have now handed all right to your creations to Telus. A rather important fact to bury in fine print!

Section 21 states "TELUS reserves the right to monitor any and all communications and activity through or with the TELUS PLAnet service to ensure adherence to the terms and conditions of this Agreement." Does this include the use of network-sniffing programs which are equivalent to Internet phone taps? Telus never specifies. In any case, such actions constitute a violation of privacy, and would be criminal if it were not in the agreement -- which, of course, all subscribers must agree with, whether they realize the consequences of their complicity or not.

Section 24 allows Telus to "prohibit, remove and/or block access to any content or Internet capability . . . at any time for any reason". In a business where uninterrupted, efficient communications with all sorts of clients and sites is the target, this statement is offensive in its arrogance. Would they permit access to sites that, while offensive, are nonetheless legal? Would they permit access to a site that criticizes Telus? Subscribers to PLAnet deserve more than the insult provided by this all-encompassing fiat.

Indeed, it is this disregard for the customer which is most galling. Telus expects its customers to be loyal, but the company offers nothing in return, not even respect. I urge any current or potential subscriber to PLAnet to consider the many competing Internet providers which serve the Edmonton area -- at least until Telus can learn what "customer service" really means.

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