Canada - Canadian Telecommunications Regulator Given Greater Powers Pursuant To Telecommunications Act Amendments
In December 2014, certain amendments to the Telecommunications Act contained in the Government of Canada's second budget implementation bill (“Bill C-43”) of 2014 came into force. The amendments have granted the CRTC expanded powers to directly regulate telecommunications service providers (“TSPs”) that are not Canadian carriers. Prior to the amendments, there were only two requirements under the Telecommunications Act that directly applied to TSPs that were not carriers: (1) that they hold a licence for providing international telecommunications services; and (2) that they register and, where required, contribute to the National Contribution Fund, which supports continuing access by Canadians to basic telecommunications services. When the CRTC sought to impose other obligations on non-carrier TSPs, it generally did so indirectly by requiring carriers that provide underlying facilities or services to non-carrier TSPs to impose obligations on those non-carrier TSPs by contract. Under the amended Telecommunications Act, the CRTC may now order any person who offers or provides telecommunications services to comply with any conditions imposed by the CRTC.
The amendments have also given the CRTC the authority to impose administrative monetary penalties on any company or person that violates any of its decisions, regulations or virtually any provision of the Telecommunications Act. For organizations, penalties for non-compliance could run as high as C$10 million for a first contravention and C$15 million for subsequent contraventions. The Chairman of the CRTC signalled in a statement that the CRTC will provide further guidance in the coming weeks on how and when the CRTC intends to use some of its new powers.
Other amendments made to the Telecommunications Act pursuant to Bill C-43 include a prohibition on telecommunications providers from charging subscribers a fee to receive a paper bill, and authorization allowing the CRTC to share confidential information with the Competition Bureau under certain conditions for competition-related purposes.
The text of the bill is available here (the changes to the Telecommunications Act begin at section 193):
For more information, please contact Theo Ling, Arlan Gates or Eva Warden.