Federal government tables legislation to set up telemarketers’ do-not-call list

In December, the federal government introduced Bill C-37, the Act to Amend the Telecommunications Act, in the House of Commons.

The act would direct the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to regulate the use of telecommunications facilities for the transmission of unsolicited

marketing calls.

If the bill becomes law, the CRTC will be able to order the creation of a database to which any person in Canada could have his or her telephone number posted in order to prevent unsolicited phone calls.

Marketers appeal CRTC decision

Earlier last year, the commission concluded that it did not have the authority to establish a national do-not-call list. The commission recommended that the government pass legislation making it possible to adopt a more effective approach to dealing with unsolicited calls. While waiting for the legislation to be tabled, the CRTC established new rules to support its existing regulations controlling telemarketing activities.

The Canadian Marketing Association, the Canadian Bankers Association and telemarketing companies representing charities appealed the CRTC decision. Last September, the commission stayed its interim rules.

A survey undertaken by Environics in December, 2003 found the average Canadian receives 3.45 unsolicited calls in a typical week.

More than one-third (35 per cent) consider the calls annoying, 24 per cent hate getting called while 38 per cent of respondents said they tolerate the calls.

In response to the 97 per cent of Canadians who find the actions of telemarketers either an inconvenience or a nuisance, and to give the CRTC the authority to act, the government is putting into place the structure to set up a do-not-call list. The bill would also levy fines for telemarketing companies that do not respect the prohibitions or requirements that the commission puts in place. Fines would range from $1,500 per offending call for individuals and $15,000 per offending call for corporations.

Once the bill becomes law, the CRTC proposes to consult with the public on the implementation of a national do-not-call list. Interested parties will be able to provide input on how the list should work, how much it will cost and whether some calls would be permitted.

Once the list is in operation, Canadians will be able to choose whether they wish to receive calls from telemarketers. Similar services are already available in the United States and Britain.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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