Canadian Telecoms Should Block Spam Calls: Regulator

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By Peter Menyasz

Nov. 7 — Canadian telecommunications companies must create a better system to protect subscribers from unsolicited telemarketing, Canada’s telecom regulator said Nov. 7.

Canadian telecommunications companies must develop network-level solutions to block illegitimate nuisance calls and propose opt-in filtering solutions for consumers to further reduce unsolicited telecommunications, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commissions (CRTC) said in the compliance and enforcement report.

Technical solutions available to Canadians are insufficient and ineffective because it requires the consumer's manual intervention or caller identification data.

“Telecommunications service providers are in the best position to develop and implement call management solutions for the millions of Canadians tired of receiving nuisance calls, just as they have done for e-mail and text messaging,” Jean-Pierre Blais, the agency's chairman, said in a Nov. 7 statement.

Canada's Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules provide a comprehensive framework to regulate unsolicited calls, including through the National Do Not Call List Rules, Telemarketing Rules and Automatic Dialing-Announcing Device Rules, the agency said. But it is increasingly difficult to stop nuisance calls when callers use caller identification spoofing to mislead consumers, it said.

Corporate Support

Bell Canada Inc. has supported having an industry working committee create universal blocking solutions for nuisance calls, Jacqueline Michelis, a spokeswoman for Bell Canada, told Bloomberg BNA Nov. 7. “We look forward to working with other communications providers to implement today's decision,” Michelis said.

Rogers Communications Canada Inc. is reviewing the policy, but supports the decision to formalize the process of finding solutions for nuisance calls, company spokesman Andrew Garas said Nov. 7. “We all want to hang up on these irritating calls and we're working on a solution because it's important to our customers,” Garas told Bloomberg BNA.

Telus Corp. is reviewing the decision, but already offers its customers tools to help them avoid nuisance calls, company spokeswoman Luiza Staniec said Nov. 7. “We look forwarding to participating in the proceedings and discussing ways in which we might be able to feasibly strengthen our approach,” Staniec told Bloomberg BNA.

Bell Canada is the largest telecommunications provider in Canada with a market capitalization of $38.52 billion, followed by Rogers Communications in second with a $20.31 billion market capitalization and Telus in third with a $18.73 billion market capitalization, Bloomberg data show.

Group to Develop Network Solutions

The agency directed its Interconnection Steering Committee—including representatives from the agency, telecom companies and industry groups—to develop practices to block illegitimate calls at the network level to provide all consumers with a base level of protection against nuisance calls.

“The use of universal blocking to prevent calls with blatantly illegitimate caller ID information strikes an appropriate balance between the protection of individual privacy and the need to permit legitimate uses of telemarketing telecommunications,” it said. “It would not be appropriate, however, to employ universal blocking to manage nuisance calls more broadly since this may lead to unintended and undesirable outcomes.”

The federal agency also directed telecoms to report on details of opt-in filtering services they offer or propose to offer to their customers.

The agency rejected suggestions by some companies that Section 36 of Canada's Telecommunications Act prohibits carriers from using call-control techniques that would eliminate or reduce nuisance calls, but said that offering such services requires its approval.

To contact the reporter on this story: Peter Menyasz in Ottawa at correspondents@bna.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Donald G. Aplin at daplin@bna.com ; Daniel R. Stoller at dstoller@bna.com

For More Information

The CRTC compliance and enforcement report is available at http://src.bna.com/jVI.

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