Update on the National Do Not Call Registry

15 Sep ’05

Michael Geist provides a badly needed update on the status of Canada’s do-not-call legislation, or as he presciently puts it, Canada’s do-not-hesitate-to-call list. It looks like he is knee deep in the outrage I hoped for when I blogged this in May after an article by Tyler Hamilton in the Star.

All of this has been bubbling away well beneath the public consciousness, a perfect opportunity for the well-heeled and well-connected to do their business. What’s needed now, apart from more outrage, is the disinfecting power of a little transparency. Gist from Michael’s post (I would not ordinarily quote so extensively fro someone else’s work but in this case I see its dissemination as, well, a public service):

My weekly Lawbytes column focuses on Bill C-37, which is designed to establish a do-not-call list. Following its introduction, Bill C-37 was referred to the Standing Committee on Industry, Natural Resources, Science and Technology for review. Months later, the amended bill is virtually unrecognizable, as intense lobbying has transformed the do-not-call list into the do-not-hesitate-to-call list.

Rather than leaving the specific exemptions to an open public consultation, the committee introduced several changes to the bill that dramatically reduces its effectiveness. These include exceptions for charities, political parties, polling companies, and businesses with existing business relationships. While it may come as little surprise to find politicians protecting their own ability to make unsolicited telemarketing calls, the inclusion of the existing business relationship exception is particularly damaging as it renders the do-not-call list practically useless.

Not only is the new Bill C-37 a disappointing departure from the government’ s prior commitment to an effective do-not-call list, the committee hearings were also particularly embarrassing. While the bill is ostensibly designed to protect consumers, the committee refused to hear from consumer groups. Instead, with notable exception of government officials and the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (whose advice was largely ignored), the committee limited its hearings to a steady stream of marketing and charitable groups.

I conclude by noting that since Bill C-37 has not yet become law, it is not too late to restore an effective do-not-call approach by reversing the committee’ s proposed do-not-hesitate-to call list. The time has come for Canadians to speak out on the issue by delivering a few unsolicited calls of their own to Industry Minister David Emerson and their local Member of Parliament.

Note that the quote contains a link to Michael’s article in the Toronto Star on the topic.

Final point – I haven’t seen anything at all in the Globe on this story – have they been AWOL or have I missed their coverage?

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