GATINEAU, Qc - The CRTC is reversing a long-standing policy that has required consumers to periodically renew their registration on a national database of phone numbers if they want to be off-limits to telemarketers.
There are currently about 12 million numbers registered on the national do-not-call list and the federal telecommunications regulator says hundreds of thousands more are added each year.
Industry groups had lobbied to maintain a sunset provision that allowed registrations to expire automatically after five years, saying it was the most efficient way to clear the blockage when phone numbers are assigned to new customers.
However, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission sided with public interest groups and about 40 individuals who sought a change in the policy and argued that renewals are inconvenient.
The CRTC also noted that consumers can take their numbers off the registry at any time, if they choose.
The commission said it encouraged the industry players to explore a system in which phone companies would voluntarily report disconnected or reassigned numbers that could then be cleared from the do-not-call database.
The do-not-call registry is an industry-run system that is administered for the CRTC by Bell Canada, the country's largest phone company.
According to the CRTC, an average of 1,200 numbers are added daily to the registry — more than 400,000 annually.
It says nearly $4 million in penalties have been collected for violations by telemarketers since the do-not-call list was started in September 2008.
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