Life is about to get more difficult for foreign telemarketers that flaunt domestic Do Not Call rules, as twelve global regulators have joined forces to create an international enforcement network.
On October 28, 2011 the CRTC announced the creation of an International Do Not Call Network to facilitate international cooperation on telemarketing enforcement and hopefully reduce the amount of unauthorized telemarketing calls Canadians receive from abroad.
The CRTC and the Australian Communications and Media Authority will be the inaugural co-chairs of the new network, which held its first meeting recently in Paris. Other members include Do Not Call regulators from France, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, United Kingdom and United States.
The purpose of the Network will be to facilitate cooperation between the different national agencies charged with policing telemarketing in order to improve cross-border enforcement of telemarketing laws, as well as to work to harmonize telemarketing policies between countries. Konrad von Finckenstein, Q.C., Chairman of the CRTC, explained that the Network is necessary in order to stop foreign telemarketers who violate Canada’s Unsolicited Telecommunication Rules.
For many years, regulators around the globe have been grappling with the increasing problem of telemarketing calls being made into their home country from a foreign source. In many cases, it is likely that unscrupulous telemarketers set their operations up in this way precisely because cross-border enforcement has been so difficult. Although domestic regulators may issue fines or remedial orders against foreign-based telemarketers, they lack the legal authority and means to enforce these orders outside their borders.
The announcement of the new enforcement network comes in the wake of the CRTC’s recent novel agreement with two Mexican telemarketing companies who had been targeting Canadians with telemarketing messages that violated the CRTC’s Rules, a case that demonstrates the Commission’s determination to enforce its telemarketing rules against foreign parties, as well as its commitment to working with foreign enforcement agencies to combat unauthorized telemarketing. The CRTC's most recent announcement underscores this approach, and shows a global trend towards streamlining and enforcing telemarketing policy.
While the CRTC oversees the Do Not Call regime, as well as regulating the time and manner in which telemarketing calls – including fax and “robocalls” – are permitted to be made, the deceptive and fraudulent content of telemarketing messages are governed not only by the fraud provisions of the Criminal Code, but are also subject to investigation and enforcement by the Competition Bureau pursuant to the Deceptive Telemarketing Practices sections of the Competition Act. In line with the trend toward cross-border enforcement, the Competition Bureau is also a member of a global enforcement network, the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network, and cooperates with its international counterparts in the investigation and enforcement of telemarketing scams, including a recent case where it laid charges against a Montréal-based telemarketing ring.