In theory, Canada’s national Do Not Call list is a pretty good idea. The registry was launched by the government in 2008 and, judging by numbers released at the beginning of April, there are around 10.7 million phone numbers on it.
The CRTC has levied at least $2.1 million in fines since the implementation of the registry, but data pertaining to the collection of said fines has been hard to come by. This has left the impression that the list carries little weight when it comes to actually making companies obey the rules.
Now, it looks like Ottawa is looking to move on a funding mechanism that will shift the costs to the industry.
The federal government says it plans on consulting with the telemarketing industry in order to put in a mechanism that will go into effect starting in April of next year. The government says it wants the telemarketers, not the regulatory body, to “shoulder the costs” of the Do Not Call registry.
The CRTC is currently handling the funding of the list, but federal money ran out last month. The government set up some short-term financing to cover the bases prior to implementing the aforementioned funding mechanism, but that is expected to run out in another year.
The current set-up sees the telemarketing industry fund operations of the list, while the CRTC handles the enforcement of it. Provisions in the newly-unveiled Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act will enable the regulator to recoup costs associated with “enforcing” the list.
The good news is that taxpayers will no longer be forced to foot the bill for the registry. The bad news is that altering the funding mechanism probably won’t make the system more effective with respect to enforcement. There’s still no tangible way to know that the fines have been collected and shifting the funding of enforcement probably won’t change that.
Even with a number of complaints and a few fines, the efficacy of the program is more than a little hazy. When I talked about the registry last summer, the number of exceptions to the rules left a lot of wiggle room for companies looking to skirt the issue. And with a lack of movement persisting on the collection of fines, it’s hard to imagine any meaningful incentive for cooperation will come out of this.