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CRTC took 130k telemarketing complaints last year: fined four.

Seriously, does the CRTC do anything other than pay its staff members' salaries? News just emerged that government agency handed out just four fines to illegal telemarketing companies last year, after receiving 130,656 complaints.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission admits that 85% of all complaints against telemarketing firms are legitimate. But it says that rather than find them, it refers to “educate" them about not calling people who have asked not to be called.

Canada operates a National Do Not Call List. Over 10 million phone numbers are included on the list, which is supposed to stop companies bothering them with marketing and other junk telephone calls.

But the list seems to make little difference. Commenters on this blog have in the past suggested that they get called more after adding their numbers to the list, rather than less. Surveys bear their experiences out.

The CRTC said that companies illegally calling people on the list are often small businesses that “were not aware of the law", adding that it prefers to send notices to businesses informing them of the rules.

What isn't clear is how many calls are repeat offences from businesses that have already been warned, but which are still continuing to pester people on the list. It seems likely that, given the CRTC only penalised four companies, there are some repeat offenders in there somewhere.

Newspapers, charities, and political parties are exempt from the do not call restrictions, as are firms that have done business with someone in the last 18 months and want to give them a ring.

Admittedly, when it does impose fines, the CRTC goes to town. It charged Bell Canada $1.3 million in 2010.

This makes me more likely to cause as many problems for junk marketers as possible, including keeping them on the phone for long periods of time, and generally having as much fun at their expense as I can.  If the government isn't going to intervene, I guess it's up to us, right?



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Danny BradburyDanny Bradbury

Danny Bradbury is a technology journalist with 20 years' experience. He writes regularly for publications including the Guardian, the Financial Times, the Financial Post, and Backbone magazine. Danny also writes and directs documentaries.

Maurice CachoMaurice Cacho

Maurice Cacho is a Toronto-based journalist mixing his love for tech with a passion for news. He's also CP24's Web Journalist and appears daily on CP24 Breakfast and weekly on the channel's tech show, Webnation, discussing tech news and trends.