The country’s national Do Not Call List (DNCL), which was created to protect Canadian residents from pesky telemarketing calls, received a shot in the arm today with the Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announcing that registration of phone numbers in the DNCL will now be permanent.
Initially, phone numbers and fax numbers listed on the DNCL were held on the list for only three years. This meant that individuals had to re-register their numbers regularly. In 2009, the CRTC lengthened that period to five years.
The DNCL was created in 2008 after Bill C-37, a proposed legislation to amend the Telecommunication Act received royal assent in 2005 and gave the CRTC the authority to establish a national do not call list.
Telemarketers are not allowed to call people whose numbers are registered with the national DNCL. However Canadian registered charities, political parties, riding associations, candidates, pollsters and newspapers as well as telemarketers with an existing business relationship with the individual are exempt from the list.
“The National DNCL was created to respect the wishes of Canadians who do not want to receive any more telemarketing calls,” the CRTC said in a statement. “It therefore makes sense that registration be made permanent in order to spare Canadians the inconvenience of having to re-register their number on the List.”
The change “enhances the CRTC’s ability to protect the privacy of Canadians” from unwanted telemarketing calls. The CRTC said Canadians can, at any time, check the National DNCL to find out if their number is on the list and, if they wish, have it removed. Over 12 million numbers are currently registered. On average, 1,200 new numbers are still being added every day.
The CRTC is continuing to enhance its monitoring in order to ensure that all telemarketers follow the rules. Since 2008, CRTC has conducted 1,200 investigations and has imposed almost $4 million in administrative monetary penalties, which are paid to the Receiver General for Canada.
The DNCL, however, has faced numerous criticisms. For instance, some privacy experts noted that the legislation contained so many exemptions that the list’s ability to significantly reduce unwanted phone calls has been severely hampered.
In 2008, it was also reported that the CRTC received thousands of complaints from individuals who reported they actually received an increase in phone calls since registering with the list. A study, however, found that 80 per cent of people who registered with the list noticed a reduction in calls and 13 per cent reported they experienced an increase in calls.
In 2009, media and consumer organizations noted that any person or organization can use false information and pretend to be a telemarketer in order to download numbers from the list for a $50 fee. It was suggested that this downloaded information can be used as a telemarketing list by firms outside Canada which are not under the CRTC’s jurisdiction.