It would appear that Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains has had enough. Enough of incumbent telecom giants claiming that more competition would be bad for consumers. Enough of CRTC Chair Ian Scott dismissing consumer concerns about the state of communications services. Enough of half-measures that fail to […]
Post Tagged with: "bell"
Enough is Enough: Bains Proposes CRTC Policy Direction Grounded in Competition, Affordability, and Consumer Interests
The CRTC Opens a Penske File: Chair Ian Scott Commits to Little Action Despite Finding Misleading Telecom Sales Tactics
In the fall of 2017, the CBC ran a high-profile story on high pressure sales tactics used by Canadian telecom companies, sparking a wide range of additional complaints. While Bell claimed the allegations were unfounded and untrue, the CBC followed up with a hidden camera investigation that found more misinformation from Bell sales representatives. Soon after the initial CBC story, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre wrote to CRTC Chair Ian Scott to request a public inquiry into the sales tactics. One month later, Scott rejected the request, noting “Canadians already have a variety of options available to them to seek redress depending on the nature of the issue.” The CRTC response did not sit well with the government, forcing ISED Minister Navdeep Bains to order the Commission to conduct an inquiry.
Yesterday, the CRTC issued its report to the government, where it was shocked – shocked – to find that there are misleading sales tactics being used by Canadian telecom companies that are harming consumers:
The CRTC released four cost awards yesterday arising from the Bell coalition’s proposal for a site blocking system. The Commission rejected the proposal last year on jurisdictional grounds and has now followed up with significant cost awards to public interest groups that participated in the process. The FairPlay coalition challenged the cost awards to OpenMedia and CIPPIC, arguing that its citizen engagement was “deliberately misleading and cannot represent responsible participation in the proceeding.” It also argued that the Public Interest Advocacy Centre’s participation was “irresponsible in nature” since it included arguments questioning the harm of piracy, which FairPlay maintained encouraged the Commission “to disregard the basic tenets of the Copyright Act.”
The CRTC soundly rejected these arguments, ordering the FairPlay coalition to pay over $130,000 in costs as part of four applications (OpenMedia/CIPPIC, PIAC, FRPC, UDC). The Commission’s analysis on the value of the OpenMedia/CIPPIC public campaign is particularly noteworthy given efforts by some commentators to question it:
Last year, Bell and its supporters denied that its “Fairplay” site blocking plan would apply to virtual private networks (VPNs). Yet as first reported by the Wire Report (sub required), Bell asked the Canadian government to target some VPNs in its submission on the NAFTA re-negotiations. Throughout the site blocking debate, many cited concerns that the Bell coalition plan would expand beyond certain websites to VPNs. For example, I posted:
Once the list of piracy sites (whatever the standard) is addressed, it is very likely that the Bell coalition will turn its attention to other sites and services such as virtual private networks (VPNs). This is not mere speculation. Rather, it is taking Bell and its allies at their word on how they believe certain services and sites constitute theft. The use of VPNs, which enhance privacy but also allow users to access out-of-market content, has been sore spot for the companies for many years.
The CRTC this morning rejected the Bell coalition’s website blocking proposal, concluding that the application to establish a new anti-piracy agency and approve site blocking without court oversight falls outside its jurisdiction. Opponents of the site blocking proposal frequently cited concerns with the proposal and the limits of the CRTC’s mandate: my posts discussed how it failed to further and undermined the Telecommunications Act policy objectives, and was inconsistent with the CRTC’s policy direction. Similar comments came from groups such as ISOC Canada, which argued that the applications involved copyright, not telecommunications.