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Competition Bureau fines Bell for mobile app reviews

Bell Canada has agreed to pay a fine of $1.25 million to the Competition Bureau for encouraging some of its employees to post positive reviews of its mobile applications without disclosing that they worked for Bell. According to the bureau, the reviews in question were posted to the ITunes App Store and the Google Play Store in November of 2014. The posts were reviews of the MyBell Mobile and Virgin My Account applications. Even though they were later removed, the bureau found that these reviews and ratings created the general impression that they were made by independent and impartial consumers.

As part of its agreement with the Competition Bureau, Bell Canada has affirmed its commitment not to direct, encourage or incentivize its employees or contractors to rate, rank or review apps in app stores. The company will also alter its corporate compliance program to include a specific prohibition of this kind of activity. Bell will also sponsor a workshop to discuss the trust of Canadians in the digital economy.

"I am pleased that Bell Canada demonstrated leadership to fully resolve the Competition Bureau's concerns in this matter," said John Pecman, Commissioner of Competition. "Bell's senior management acted quickly to remove the reviews of the apps that had been posted by its employees and has taken steps to prevent it from happening again. I commend the shared compliance approach taken by Bell to resolve this matter, which will benefit both consumers and the digital marketplace."

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