In the past, the CRTC has adopted a zero tolerance approach towards robocall violations. Till July 2010, the regulatory body issued fines to 22 companies totaling roughly $75,000. Last year, the regulatory body stepped up the ante fining several big and small names including Xentel DM Inc., Rogers, Bell and GoodLife Fitness.
The momentum continued this year as the CRTC went after more ‘do not call’ violators, sending a strong message to one and all. And yesterday, the CRTC slapped a hefty fine on a Liberal MP’s riding association for failing to adequately identify itself in robocalls during the 2011 election campaign.
The MP in question, Frank Valeriote, has taken full responsibility of the violation and agreed to cooperate with the CRTC. IMO, it’s heartening to see the CRTC adopt a ‘one law for all’ approach and not be bogged down by political pressure.
As part of the settlement agreement with Valeriote, the CRTC assessed a $4,900 fine for violations of the Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules. It’s alleged that the call failed to identify its originator and did not give a callback number. The CRTC Friday announced that it has reached a compliance agreement with Valeriote`s riding association that included an admission of wrongdoing.
“We appreciate that Mr. Valeriote and the Association fully cooperated with our investigation and committed to comply with the Rules in future campaigns,” said Andrea Rosen, the CRTC’s Chief Compliance and Enforcement Officer. “We expect political party associations and candidates who are running for office to put appropriate safeguards in place to ensure compliance with the rules.”
On his part, Valeriote admitted his mistake and issued a statement.
“I accept the findings of the CRTC regarding the election call placed by my campaign designed to educate Guelph voters about specific policy differences between myself and an opponent. We were unaware of certain requirements and inadvertently neglected to include some identifying features in the message, such as a phone number and address. When I first learned of the errors in the call earlier this year, I was fully and immediately cooperative with the CRTC; I take full responsibility and apologize for the infringement.
Of course, there’s a whole political angle to the issue as Elections Canada investigates allegations of fraudulent and misleading phone calls designed to suppress the vote of targeted constituents during the May 2, 2011, election. While the liberals and conservatives continue to fire verbal volleys over the matter, I for, one, laud the CRTC’s efforts for it’s no non-sense approach towards robocall violators.