My weekly technology column (Toronto Star version, Ottawa Citizen version, homepage version) focuses on the quiet telecom takeover of the forthcoming national do-not-call list. In the past few months, the do-not-call list details have begun to emerge with the CRTC addressing questions surrounding who will run the list, who will pay for it, and who will investigate consumer complaints. While Canadians might expect most of those responsibilities to rest with the CRTC, the Commission appears to have a far different vision – one that involves a near-complete outsourcing of responsibilities to Canada’s dominant telecommunications companies.
The CRTC was never particularly supportive of the do-not-call list. Indeed, Charles Dalfen, the former CRTC chair, told the Canadian Press in 2004 that a do-not-call list was a good idea, but that the Commission "isn't equipped to administer such a list and doesn't have the power to enforce it properly." Consistent with that perspective, the CRTC has sketched out a system where the do-not-call list would be maintained by a non-governmental entity and paid for primarily by businesses that engage in telemarketing. Complaints would be investigated by the newly-created telecom company-backed complaints commission.
This system has elicited considerable opposition from some marketing, financial, and charitable groups, yet the telecom companies are unsurprisingly supportive since they are literally poised to run the entire operation from registration to investigation.