CRTC Releases Do-Not-Call Registry Rules

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.

Update: More coverage of the CRTC announcement from the Globe, Star, and Canwest


  1. Do Not Call
    The do-not-call exemptions leave many things wide open.
    As a result, I have compiled a short list of “exemptees” and a strategy to handle each one.
    Feel free to use it as you will.

    Under the law, the following callers (marked with *) are exempt from do not call rules:

    * Registered charities (calls made by them or on their behalf)
    Response: Thank you for calling. You have just narrowed my choices of charities to donate to.

    * Political parties
    Response: Thank you for calling. I will not be donating to your party and will not consider voting for your party.

    * Calls made for the purpose of public opinion surveys
    Response:(this one I’m a bit subjective about, it depends on the topic – carpet cleaning “environmental” surveys are good targets)
    Thank you for calling. I will give you my opinion, but I’m pretty sure you’re not going to like it.

    * Newspapers of general circulation (for subscription solicitation)
    Response: Thank you for calling. I will not be subscribing to your newspaper, ever.

    * Businesses with whom you have an existing business relationship (e.g. businesses from which you have purchased goods or services within last 18 months)
    Response: Thank you for calling. You have just ended any pre-existing business relationship we may have had. Continued calls will result in me telling everyone I know not to do business with you.

    Hope this helps.


  2. LOL in getting a law like this enforced!

    Most fly by night call centres use blocked numbers. By the time a complaint is processed and acted upon, the company doing the calling (for another company) has closed shop and moved on.

    zzzzzzzzz the government sleeps again!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’m of two minds here. I dislike the calls as much as the next person. However, I work for a business that retails to farmers. Do farmers qualify as consumers that shouldn’t be called? Is there an allowance to telephone solicit businesses?

    Our business systems would need a major revamp to avoid calling people that are as strict about calls as Steve above. I doubt very much that we could afford to subscribe to the “do not call” list let alone pay our business system supplier what it would take to customize our customer lists.

    In our business of over 100 people, 30 or so might have reason to make first contact type phone calls to customers/prospects. Getting them all trained on the fine points of this law will prove difficult. Maybe other small businesses have better training procedures, but I doubt it.

    That said, we don’t walk the phone book. It would be terribly expensive to do that. In other words, we only call people who are already qualified as being somewhat interested in our product. Usually, that would be because they called us first. We probably get more complaints from past customers that we didn’t make them aware of something, or return their calls, than we do about unsolicited phone calls.

    BTW, as a consumer, my stock answer to telephone marketing is “I don’t respond to telephone solicitation. Good bye.” That’s when I’m feeling nice. Less generous is when I let them talk a while, then ask some wild question I know they can’t answer hoping to get the call escalated. In other words, if I’m in the right mood, I try hard to make the phone call as costly as possible for the firm.

  4. In the G&M Michael is quoted as saying it is the “do not hesitate to call” list. Exactly.

    Charity telemarketers: since the same telemarketing organization is often used by multiple charities, is the “prior business relationship” with the telemarketer (who keep up to 80% of the funds raised — see MADD) in which case ‘do not call’ would block all organziations using that telemarketer or with the charity in which case ‘do not call’ would still allow the telemarketer to call for other charities.

    As for handling telemarketers, my response is “Hang on a moment” and then I put the phone down and resume whatever it was I was doing. Now, of course, there are pre-programmed messages so the effect is not as good — but it still ties up their outgoing line for a while.

  5. Eric Jacksch says:

    Do I understand this correctly, that the program will give the Do Not Call list to telemarketers? If so, this simply illustrates how little thought the CRTC has put into this. Will they be working with the banks to issue a “Do Not Fraud These Credit Cards” list too?

    Telemarketers should be required to screen their lists through the DNC list via a service provider. Handing the lists over to them defeats the purpose.

  6. Anonymous says:

    The new rules have no teeth and likely won’t stop phone spammers.

  7. Especially as the most annoying offenders of home telephone peace are “charities”. Why give them a free reign to annoy? And the Ottawa Citizen newspaper used to be attrociously annoying in it’s phone marketing. Why let newspapers off? We don’t want exceptions, we want quiet phones. Where’s the outright ban on recorded messages and automated dialing that leads to you picking up dead air? Also, it should be whoever sells the phone line to the rogue telemarketers who’ll just ignore this list that are made jointly liable for fines – the only way to stop the rogues is to hit the telephone companies also.

  8. Telemarketers checking in to ensure that they have a ‘clean list’ is a joke. The telemarketing companies are simply hiring a partner or supplier to obtain the lists from the Canadian Marketing Association. The legitimate company then provides the list to the offending telemarketer and merely suggests that they comply with the rules. However, it is up to the telemarketer to decided whether or not they will, and in most cases, they do not remove numbers from the list. So, the CMA and now the government will distribute our personal information, which has been confirmed by all of us, so that in the end the telemarketers will have a perfect list in their slimey hands and we will all be interrupted during the dinner hour.

    Furthermore, this negative consent bullcrap that allows those companies we do business with to contact us to solicit services and products within 18 months from prior contact is absurd. If companies want to contact us, for any reason, they should obtain our EXPLICIT consent.

  9. Not getting up ever again. says:

    Don’t wait for your government to pass inadequate laws.
    Get an answering machine, set your ring volume on low, and vow to never pick up a ringing phone again.
    These people almost never leave a recorded message.

  10. Yes, the annoying ones do leave a messge…. That’s half the problem.

  11. “all exempted organizations (political parties, pollsters, newspapers, charities, businesses with prior relationship) will be required to maintain their own do-not-call registries”

    Crazy thought… why not have check-boxes on the do not call registry form so you can PRE-exclude these organizations?

    Personally, I’d accept… say… “businesses with prior relationship” but deny… “newspapers” and “charities”.

    Works for me.
    Trivial to implement.
    Accomplishes the goal.

  12. more pathetic government foot dragging, this list will most likely never become reality. And whats with even allowing any exceptions? Newspapers, especially the Calgary Herald are the worst of all, i dont know how many times I have been called from the 416 by autodialers greeting me with dead air…..those things should not even be allowed period

  13. Abusee
    As with spam, telemarketers have found the simplest and most effective way of thwarting any existing (USA) or proposed (Canada) Do Not Call lists. Make the calls from outside of the Country. I’m already being inundated with phone spam from the USA, and not surprisingly, I can’t register my tel# with the US Do Not Call Registry. Canadian telemarketers could set up in the US or off-shore, as the emailers do. Spam (internet or telephone) should be outlawed internationally and subject to massive fines and serious jail-time. Additionally, any person or organization that gathers and sells persoanl information should be subject to the same, or frankly, worse. But this will never happen, and telespam will never subside. Any actions the governments take will always be too slow, not broad enough and with a limited enforcement structure. A spammer, ie, a determined unscrupulous businessman, is an Einstein compared to any government bureaucrat or politician. It’s a no brainer – telespam is here to stay, won’t subside and will likely increase with time. Get used to it.

  14. Offshoring doesn’t work
    The CRTC rules allow the “client of telemarketer”, or the Canadian company on behalf of whom the call was placed by the telemarketer, to be held liable for violations committed by the offshore telemarketer. Thus, unless the client of telemarketer is itself a foreign company with no physical presence in Canada, offshore telemarketers can’t be used by Canadian companies to evade the rules.

    Mike ([ link ])

  15. Is there anyone out there who can think outside “the box” or has common sense. The “do not call” list would be so LOOOOONG it would be impossible to maintain and administer, take too many people, too much $$ – and would NOT work and is for a limited time. Instead make a “CALL” list – if someone WANTS (?) to be phoned – add your name and # – give THAT list to the telemarketers – and they can ONLY call from that list – why should we “Victims” have the onus on us – like “negative billing” – the list would be shorter, easier to manage – and would likely not have to be altered – only for anyone who adds their name – less people to oversee, less money to spend and MANY more happy phone owners- the telemarketers want to run a business — these are the rules – use the names who AGREE to be annoyed!

    But like in the court system, it’s the perpetrator who gets the “rights” – and to heck with the respsonsibilities! Apparently with the do not call lists, the Telemarketer comes before the privacy of the individual home phone owner!

  16. Agree with previous comment — make a “call list” – telemarketers will continue to use “old” lists, we will continue to be bombarded with unwanted calls- shift workers are awoken (not practical to take phone off hook – ill relatives, etc.). with a “Call List” it cannot get “mixed up” with old lists – and most importantly everyone on the list has agreed to receive calls for special deals on trips, products, etc. — LEAVE THE REST OF US ALONE!!! If the majority of the population (everyone I know!) does NOT want to be called — doesn’t that tell us something? We pay for the phone – WE should decide who can call – and do it in a positive — not “negative” way.

  17. Where is this call list? I’d like to register.

  18. It is very sad in Canada that we have no rights to privacy and no one in the government with any backbone to enforce this. Receiving at least 8 telemarketing calls a day and usually from the States is ridiculous. A do not call list would help in many ways, as those who do not want to receive calls will not buy anything anyway so the telemarketers won’t be wasting their time calling people who are just going to be rude. Most of the people who want on the do-not-call list won’t donate any money over the phone anyway. Having exceptions is wrong as well, unless people can choose their own exceptions. Make a do not call list where you can check the exceptions of who can call. That way, if you choose to accept calls from charities or government officials etc, then they can call. We personally don’t want calls from anyone unless we ask them to call, and we won’t deal nicely with any unsolicited calls.

  19. Credit and Mortgage Help
    I get 3 and 4calls each day to help me with my credit and mortgage payments. I have put my name on the DO NOT CALL REGISTRY but the calls keep coming. What is the CRTC doing? Are they doing anything? to stop this intrusion???

  20. not sure
    not sure what effect this will have on a new venture I am starting in my area. I am starting a new business as a financial advisor later this year and without the ability of being able to call people my business efforts may be crippled. I am not for the calls from MBNA or Mimi telling me to call about a new credit card offer, but for small businesses that would call just locally this could be crippling. Counting on people to walk in is not a very efficient way of starting a new business. Advertising does not always cut it alone…I hope no one registers til some of this stuff is better figured out. The fact that business may have to pay for the fees for any complaints whether they are true or not is a fine example of how F#$%$d up this is.

  21. do not call list
    Telemarketing is telemarketing, whether it is a small local business placing cold calls or some big bank calling to offer you a new credit card.

    It’s rude, offensive and you’re calling MY home, expecting me to stop what i’m doing just to answer your phone call because you want to sell me something.

    You being too cheap to spend money on conventional advertising is not my friggin problem.

  22. do not call list

    I can appreciate your hostile attitude towards telemarketers and I have had plenty of calls myself that would tick me off. Obviously you don’t operate a business and expect everything to be handed to you on a platter. Just because your too cheap to have call display or an answering machine to screen your calls is not my friggin problem. BTW…I have always…always ALWAYS spent plenty of money on conventional advertising and when I do call people I am not pushy, I am polite, don’t call during mealtimes in any timezone and Never phone late at night. So go back into your introverted hole and get your phone disconnected because obviously you don’t want to hear from anyone.

  23. Telemarking and e-mail fraud
    I Just called thease people there On the Bell Buisness coustomers page I’m a bell Buisness Coustomer with all ready Call Privacy and Permenit call Blocking but dosn’t stop the Tellamarketers there useing 000-0000 or they Spoof you’re own Telephone number and give it out we need to stop those calls there was a Device Sold in the USA Called The ZAPPEr it was supposto remove you from there caller list and there computers so they can’t call you back. but they where $79.00 us.
    but there is exemtions as I was told New people people can call you to subscribe elections people servay people there are exemtioms from what I was just told

    March is Fraud Prevention Month. There is no better time to adopt safe practices that will protect you from the growing threat of fraud.

    This March, Bell is actively taking part in Fraud Prevention Month in order to educate consumers everywhere on the different types of scams and “phoney offers” that can put them and their families at risk.
    Fraud is on the rise. Every day, scam artists from around the world are finding new ways, and using the latest technology, to break into office networks or personal computers, or invent new phone or online scams in order to steal information and money from unsuspecting consumers.

    Because of the variety and sheer volume of these activities, it is virtually impossible to track every incident or find the source of every fake marketing operation. As a result, more and more consumers and businesses are becoming victims of fraud and losing millions every year.

    Education is your best protection

    As part of Fraud Prevention Month, we encourage you to find out more about phishing (e-mail fraud), telemarketing scams and other types of activities that can make you vulnerable. Here are some examples of what you should be looking out for – as well as some tips that will help you stay safe online and offline.

    Telemarketing or Prize scams. Aggressive marketing tactics are often used in order to “close the deal”, enabling the scam artist to quickly obtain your money and important information such as your banking information or credit card number.

    Important Tip: Watch out for “suspiciously generous” offers and make sure you are dealing with a legitimate business when you make a purchase over the phone or the Internet. Take the time you need to think about the offer and don’t give out your personal information, unless you’ve contacted the business through its regular channels, e.g. 310-Bell. (See Important Message to Bell customers regarding incidents of telemarketing fraud using Bell’s name- add link )

    E-mail Fraud or Phishing. This refers to the use of deceptive e-mails and fake web sites using the brand name of a legitimate business or government agency in order to obtain the personal information of web users for purposes of identity theft and other types of fraud. For more information, go to Sympatico support site.

    Important Tip: Be aware of e-mails with urgent requests for personal information. Legitimate companies usually follow strict privacy guidelines when communicating with customers. They will not phone or e-mail consumers requesting information such as password, bank information, social insurance number, etc. unless they are responding to a customer inquiry. For more information about Bell’s privacy policy, go to

    Identity Theft. Scam artists are now using a wide range of tactics in order to steal your information online and offline. In addition to phishing, your personal information may be pulled from social networking sites, such as Facebook and MySpace, your computer, your mail box and even a recycling bin.

    Important Tip: Limit what information you share on social networking sites. Keep your passwords, back account information and social insurance number confidential at all times, and check your bank and credit card statements frequently.

    Toll Fraud Scam artists are finding creative schemes used to steal your money by accessing your voice mail system, your calling card information or your web browser and making sure the additional long-distance fees are charged to you. Bell’s Fraud Control Centre continuously monitors this activity on our networks and works diligently to protect our customers and our employees. It is also your responsibility to remain vigilant and adopt the simple, but important, safeguards that can protect you from toll fraud.

    Important tips:

    Be cautious with the information you provide over the phone and make sure no one is watching when keying in your calling card PIN or any other PIN;
    Watch out for free downloads over the Web. Some sites will try to draw you in with free offers and then download programs that may be directing your web browser to an Internet service provider overseas. You will be charged the additional long-distance fees.
    Always check your monthly statements carefully and look out for unusual charges.
    For more useful tips on how to protect yourself from toll fraud, visit our toll fraud site

    To find out more about Fraud Prevention Month, go to

    If you suspect you’ve been a target of fraud and would like to report a problem, contact Phonebusters, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Call Centre, at 1-888-495-8501 or go to

  24. Telemarkiting And e-mail Fraud
    On My Cell Phone I have a Chip In My Phone I can Blocked whoever I wan’t and and Block my number from any from getting it some Govermant Agancys already have this I havd mine for a while and glad I have getting rid of my Land line cause I have Unlimited local and longdistance with in Northamerica and europe

  25. Telemarketers
    Did you also see this ? so it was Bell giveg our 416 numbers and was it through the CRTC
    I gave the Sht 5 weeks about giving our numbers out.

    Viewing Tools:
    Special software needed to read non-HTML documents

    Fact sheet
    Telemarketer subscription rates and file formats for the
    National Do Not Call List
    Subscription Rates
    On 21 December 2007, Bell Canada was awarded a five-year contract to operate the National Do Not Call List (DNCL). As such, Bell Canada was to propose a rate structure for fees that telemarketers would pay to subscribe to the List. The Commission has now approved the telemarketer subscription fee rates to the National DNCL as follows:

    Subscription option – by area code
    Number of area codes Annual 6-month 3-month 1-month
    All area codes

    By individual area code

    Subscription option – by telephone number
    Telephone number query1 Per query
    Any area code (maximum 100 queries per query session)

    Accordingly, telemarketers that are required to subscribe to the National DNCL can expect to pay the following in these hypothetical examples:

    A telemarketer that conducts telemarketing campaigns across Canada throughout the year could get an annual subscription for $11,280, which would give them access to all area codes for a full year.
    A telemarketer that conducts telemarketing campaigns in just four area codes throughout the year could get a subscription for $2,460.
    A telemarketer that conducts a seasonal telemarketing campaign across Canada that lasts just three consecutive months could get a subscription for $2,970.
    A telemarketer that conducts a limited telemarketing campaign that targets just 50 telephone numbers could query those 50 numbers for $25.
    File Formats
    Telemarketers will be able to download the National DNCL in two different file formats:

    Comma-separated values (CSV), also known as Flat Text Files; and
    Extensible Markup Language (XML) Tagged Files.
    The files will be provided for downloading in one Zip file, which includes individual files for each Canadian NPA (area code) selected. If the full national list is selected, then one Zip file will be provided containing a single file with all numbers registered on the National DNCL for Canada.

    Flat Text File format:
    The complete list in a flat text file will consist of one three-digit Canadian area code and seven-digit telephone number per line, with a linefeed at the end of each line. For example:


    XML Tagged File format:
    When you download the full list as an XML Tagged file, an element indicates what level and value of data are contained in the file.

    For the complete national list, the level is “all” and the value is null (Example 1).

    For an area code list, the level is “ac” and the value is the area code, such as 416 (Example 2).

    Example 1: National List

    Example 2: Single Area Code List

    1A query is available for those making unsolicited calls to a limited number of consumers. For example, an organization who is running business from referrals might find this subscription method to be useful.

    Date Modified: 2008-08-26

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  26. what a joke!!!!!!!!
    the CALGARY HERALD IS THE WORST!!!! I have asked them a million times to put me on their so called, “do not call” list..what a crock!!! Obviously the exemption list is filled with “pocket-stuffers” that the government doesn’t want to pi@@ off…get real

  27. Taylor Parker says:

    No Call Registry
    I’ve been getting a lot of telemarketing calls as of late, and I would really like them to stop. One of my friends suggested that I sign up on the “do not call” registry . She said that she did it years ago, and doesn’t remember how to find the registry, but that it’s served her well for years! How does one find the do not call registry ?