Canada's National Do-Not-Call Registry is expected to be up and running by September 30th 2008, according to an announcement last week by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission. The registry is in response to the millions of Canadians complaining to the CRTC about telemarketers.
Canadians will be able to register for the do-not-call list online or by phone, and companies that ignore the registry will be fined $15,000 per incident. (About freaking time!)
The CRTC also recently confirmed
that Canadians can use third-party websites to opt out of telemarketing
calls from organizations that are exempt under the law (ie. political parties,
national DNC contains a wide range of exemptions that will require
Canadians to individually opt out from hundreds of organizations if
they want to completely stop the unwanted calls. But in return for
the exemption, these groups are required to maintain internal
do-not-call lists (polling companies are exempt from the national DNC
and the individual opt-out approach).
Anti-telemarketing crusader Michael Geist created iOptOut.ca, a website that enables
Canadians to opt out of many exempted organizations at no cost with a
few easy clicks of the mouse. Visitors to the site are asked to enter
their phone number and to indicate
their calling preferences for nearly 150 organizations.
The problem is that Geist's website, and others like it, have deluged those organizations with millions of opt out requests, and said organizations are now scrambling, saying that the opt out system is unreasonable and that they won't be able to do business if everyone opts out.
The Canadian Marketing Association and the Canadian Bankers Association
sent letters to the CRTC complaining about
the iOptOut service and seeking support for their position that requests
generated from the site were invalid.
The CRTC responded to the letters with an unequivocal rejection of the
complaints, providing a clear indication that failure to honour the
opt-out requests could lead to significant penalties (thus even political groups and charities would face $15,000 fines if caught ignoring their own internal lists).
But here's the rub... how do you know they're ignoring their own lists when they are internal? How do you prove it?
The CRTC are sending out the message that the DNC registry will be enforced and that opt out procedures for charities and likewise must be respected.
But here's my prediction... the telemarketing industry in Canada is going to die, that or it will have to go underground and start operating illegally, either within Canada or operating from across the US-Canada border.
Canadians have made it clear they don't want unsolicited phone calls. In my mind it should be illegal and considered a breach of privacy.
Thus the Do-Not-Call registry is a step in the right direction... the complete destruction of the telemarketing industry... but will it be destroyed? Or will it just go underground and start operating illegally, trying to skirt CRTC rules by using hidden caller IDs, refusing to let people talk to their manager or just plain hanging up when Canadians demand to speak to a manager.
My response when I pick up the phone and get a telemarketer?