More than 18 months after legislation creating a do-not-call registry passed through the Parliamentary process, the CRTC today released the much-anticipated rules for the registry (rules here, CRTC release here, media coverage here). As I argued just last week, this process has taken far too long and even today's announcement does not provide much sense of when the Canadian registry will be operational. In fact, alongside the rules, the CRTC announced that it plans to release an RFP to find someone to run the registry later this month, but that the process will undoubtedly stretch until well into 2008.
Some of the key points in the just-released rules:
- Canadians will be able to register their number by phone, fax, or online (up to three numbers on the Web)
- there will be a 31 day grace period for organizations to implement a do-not-call request
- the CRTC rejected a request from the financial services industry to include a new exception for personal referrals
- all exempted organizations (political parties, pollsters, newspapers, charities, businesses with prior relationship) will be required to maintain their own do-not-call registries
- there will be no cost to register phone numbers on the registry. The registry will instead be funded by requiring telemarketers to pay a subscription fee to ensure they have a "clean" list
- Canadians can register on their own or select someone to add their number on their behalf
- there will be a renewal requirement every three years for registered numbers
- organizations can still contact a number registered on the do-not-call list if the person has provided their express consent to do so
- telemarketers will be prohibited from sharing the do-not-call list with others
- Canadians must file complaints within 14 days
- there are no penalties on Canadians for making a false complaint about a do-not-call registry violation
- the CRTC will make violations public
- the phone companies have been ordered to raise public awareness about how Canadians can register their numbers on the do-not-call registry
While it is good to see this moving forward, it is still likely to be many months before a do-not-call registry becomes a reality in Canada. Moreover, there remains considerable uncertainty about whether a privately-run for-profit registry will be viable. Today's release is a positive development, yet the phone is unlikely to stop ringing anytime soon.