The Vancouver Sun features a letter to the editor today from Canadian Bankers Association President Nancy Hughes Anthony on the do-not-call list and iOptOut.ca. The CBA professes support for the DNC, noting that "it's easy for Canadians to opt out of telemarketing calls. Simply sign up for the national Do Not Call list." Hughes Anthony neglects to mention that CBA members are exempt under the DNC where there is a prior or current business relationship. Under the rules, that means your current bank gets to call for a wide array of additional services even if your number is on the DNC list. Moreover, if you simply inquired with another bank about a mortgage rate or credit card offering, they can continue to call you for another six months. The CBA has a history of defending its right to make these telemarketing calls. In 2004, it made submissions to the CRTC asking that its members be excluded from new telemarketing rules, arguing that its practices "do not constitute 'undue inconvenience or nuisance'."
With respect to iOptOut.ca, the CBA raises three objections, of all of which were dismissed by CRTC Chair Konrad von Finckenstein.
First, they express concern about the privacy risk associated with an email opt-out. Of course, it is up to Canadians to decide how to transmit their personal information and not for the CBA to decline to observe the law because it objects to the transmission approach. Second, they are concerned that the bank will not actually get the email transmissions (in other words, banks make it hard to opt-out via email and then claim that it is too hard to opt-out via email). This too is easy to address – identify a specific opt-out email address so that it goes to the right place with no spam blockers. Third, they argue that they have privacy obligations to ensure the accuracy of a customer's personal information. There is no reason to believe that this obligation cannot be met through services such as iOptOut.ca by confirming names and numbers within their internal lists. In sum, the CBA and its members should respect Canadians' choices and the CRTC decision on iOptOut. With penalties of up to $15,000 per violation, failiure to do so could get costly.