Canada’s national Do Not Call List (DNCL), established by the CRTC (Canadian Radiotelevision and Telecommunications Commission) and to be administered by Bell Canada, is expected to come into effect by September 30, 2008. The DNCL will permit individuals to register their phone numbers (including cell and VoIP numbers) and fax numbers, thereby prohibiting organizations from telemarketing to these registered individuals. There are a number of exemptions from the prohibition, one of the most important being the exemption for telemarketing calls made by or on behalf of organizations to consumers with whom they have an existing business relationship. An “existing business relationship” is defined in the Telecommunications Act to include customers who have
- bought products or services from the organization within the past 18 months;
- made an inquiry or application to the organization within the past six months; or
- entered into a written contract with the organization that is still in force or that expired within the past 18 months.
The exemption may, in certain circumstances, extend to calls made by or on behalf of affiliates and joint marketing partners of the organization with the existing business relationship. Organizations should seek legal advice when attempting to determine whether an exemption applies in specific circumstances.
An organization making calls exempted from the DNCL rules must nonetheless meet certain obligations in order to continue telemarketing to existing customers, including
- registering with the DNCL (though an organization making only exempted calls need not subscribe to the DNCL);
- maintaining its own do-not-call list, adding individuals to that list within 31 days of a request, and not making unsolicited calls or faxes to individuals on that list; and
- otherwise complying with the CRTC’s Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules.
Individuals may file complaints about an organization’s failure to comply with the CRTC’s Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules, including the DNCL rules and, after a 31-day grace period following the launch of the DNCL, a corporation may be subject to a penalty of up to $15,000 per violation. In light of the upcoming changes, organizations should confirm whether telemarketing calls made by them or on their behalf are exempted from the DNCL and take steps to ensure that registration, subscription and/or establishment of an organizational do-not-call list, as applicable, are in place.
For further information, please see Fact Sheet: New and revised Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules, www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/INFO_SHT/t1022.htm.