The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission unveiled its much-anticipated draft wireless code of conduct lasts week, offering a promise of new, enforceable protections for consumers. The draft code, which is open for public comment until mid-February, generated a mixed reaction. Some consumer groups welcomed it as a step in the right direction. But other commentators were left underwhelmed, disappointed that the code does little to address consumer frustrations with issues such as long-term wireless contracts and exorbitant roaming fees.
My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes the draft code features some welcome changes to the current wireless landscape, including the possibility of consumer cancellation of contracts when providers change key terms, clear limits on contract termination penalties, and monthly bill caps when additional fees are incurred (thereby reducing the likelihood of bill shock after a trip abroad). Perhaps most importantly, the code is enforceable, backed by the possibility of monetary compensation of up to $5,000.
Yet the draft code ultimately disappoints, since its underlying philosophy is that consumer frustrations with the Canadian wireless market can be best addressed by more information.