CRTC won't dial back on telemarketing rules

1 avril 2014

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Following a comprehensive review of its Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules (UTRs), the CRTC has rejected most of the revisions that were considered during its review, electing to make only a few changes.

Most significantly, the CRTC has rejected a long-standing proposal to broaden the use of automated dialing-announcing devices (ADADs) - popularly known as “robocalls” - where the caller has an existing business relationship with the recipient.

The Commission similarly rejected revisions that would have permitted, without consent, ADAD calls involving only indirect solicitation, such as where a wireless carrier would make calls to both provide notice to prepaid subscribers of the pending expiry of their minutes and to provide a number through which those minutes could be topped up.  Three years ago, the three largest wireless carriers paid financial penalties or made alternate settlements totalling $1.7 million for making such calls, which the CRTC found to be telemarketing calls, without consent.

However, in its 31 March 2014 decision, the Commission did make certain changes to the UTRs, including more than halving the period during which telemarketers must give effect to requests to be added to the telemarketer’s own internal Do Not Call List (DNCL), from 31 to 14 days.  The 31 day grace period for giving effect to registrations on the National DNCL remains in place.

Other tweaks to the rules include the following:

  • ADAD calls may now include, in their introductory messages, either a postal address or an email address, in addition to a valid telephone number
  • ADAD calls must now include at the beginning of a call a brief description of the purpose of the telecommunication
  • Telemarketers must now ensure that the contact details (email addresses, postal addresses, telephone numbers) provided during live voice or ADAD calls must continue to be valid for a minimum of 60 days after the call.  A similar requirement is included in the new anti-spam law.

The UTRs, as posted on the CRTC’s website, have already been amended to incorporate these changes; however, the amendments will only take effect on 30 June 2014, giving telemarketers just over 90 days to make the system and administrative changes that will be required to come into compliance.

The Commission declined to make other contemplated changes to the UTRs, including the following:

  • Telemarketers will not be required to display on the recipients caller ID the name of the calling party.  Current rules are maintained requiring the display of the originating telephone number or an alternate number where the calling party can be reached
  • Telemarketers will not have additional record-keeping requirements.  Current rules are maintained requiring telemarketers to retain records of registration with the National DNCL operator, proof of any DNCL subscriptions purchased and records of their call abandonment rates, if using predictive dialers.
  • The validity period for an internal DNCL request will continue to be 3 years from the 31-day grace period following the initial request.  The Commission declined to extend this period, as public interest groups had proposed
  • Telemarketers will not be required to notify consumers that their internal DNCL registrations are about to expire, nor will they be required to automatically extend an internal DNCL request to all affiliated companies
  • Calls made for purposes exempted from the telemarketing rules (e.g. registered charities and political parties) will not be required to maintain internal DNCLs
  • Telemarketing calls made to businesses will continue to be exempt from the telemarketing rules

The changes come just over a year after the Commission initiated a comprehensive review of the Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules.

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