National Do Not Call List

The National Do Not Call List (DNCL) (French: Liste nationale de numéros de télécommunication exclus) is a list administered by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) that enables Canadian residents to decide whether or not to receive telemarketing calls.[1] It was first announced by the Government of Canada on 13 December 2004.[2]

The DNCL has been labelled a "disaster"[3] and over a decade after the law's creation, many telemarketers are either unaware or do not follow the rules imposed by the DNCL.[4]

The DNCL continues to receive heavy criticism, the latest being from Senator Percy Downe who referred to it as "totally useless",[5] due to the costly but totally ineffective enforcement, the large number of exempt groups and the ability for anyone from anywhere in the world to purchase sets of phone numbers for relatively low fees, and then abuse the Do Not Call List as a calling list.[6] Senator Downe cited multiple examples of constituents, whom he had personally added to the list, receiving a sudden increase in telemarketing calls three months later.[7]

On 20 April 2009, the CRTC announced that telephone and fax numbers on the list would be listed on the DNCL for five years, extended from the three years at the list's inception.[8] Numbers are now on the list indefinitely.[9]


Legislation entitled Bill C-37, An Act to amend the Telecommunications Act , introduced in the House of Commons, was given first reading on 13 December 2004.[2] It addressed telemarketing calls in Canada and would allow people to sign up to prevent certain telemarketers from contacting them. It received royal assent on 25 November 2005 and came into force on 30 June 2006.[10]

The legislation gives the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) authority to establish a national do not call list, to establish procedures to administer the Act and to levy penalties for violations.[11]

Starting 30 September 2008, residents of Canada were able to register their telephone numbers on the list online, or by telephone, fax or teletype.[1]


The Do Not Call List exempts Canadian registered charities, political parties, riding associations, candidates, pollsters and newspapers of general circulation for the purpose of soliciting subscriptions.[12] Telemarketing calls from organizations with whom residents have an existing business relationship are also exempt.[12] Telemarketers may also still call if a resident gave them permission in a written form or verbally.[12] This law also does not extend its protections to non-Canadian phone numbers.

Paragraph 41.7(4) of The Telecommunications Act[13] requires that every exempted telemarketer "shall maintain their own do not call list and shall ensure that no telecommunication is made on their behalf to any person who has requested that they receive no telecommunication...". Unlike the DNCL Rules, the Act itself makes no provision for a grace period or expiry, so all do not call requests must be honoured immediately and permanently.

In letters[14][15] dated 27 June 2008, to the Canadian Marketing Association (CMA) and the Canadian Bankers Association (CBA), CRTC Chairman Konrad von Finckenstein personally ruled that do not call requests from third parties, such as, are to be considered " valid requests and must be honoured."[16] Due to its overwhelming popularity, is currently being upgraded and improved.[17]

On 13 November 2008, the CRTC declined a request from telecommunications provider Rogers Wireless to permit Canadian wireless customers to block unsolicited SMS text messages through the DNCL.[18]


The privacy benefits the list will achieve remain uncertain. A working group of the CRTC held hearings concerning the planned implementation of the list. It submitted recommendations[19] on 26 July 2006.

On 3 July 2007,[20] the CRTC announced it would be issuing a request for proposals to suppliers willing to provide this service. On 21 December 2007,[21] the CRTC announced that it had picked Bell Canada to operate the National Do Not Call List for five years. It is funded from subscription fees paid by telemarketers,[22] rather than relying on fees by end citizens. It became operational on 30 September 2008.


Michael Geist, professor of law at the University of Ottawa, has criticized the changes adopted in the amended Act. He observed that the legislation contained too many exemptions which would not result in a significant decrease in calls for subscribers of the DNCL. Geist expressed particular concern about the extent and duration of the existing business relationship exception. In a 2009 article for the Toronto Star, Geist labelled the CRTC's do-not-call list a "disaster" and recommended that parliament return to the original version of Bill C-37 by eliminating all exemptions. He further recommended cross-border cooperation to resolve jurisdictional issues and immediate tough enforcement to send a strong signal to violators.[23]

In November 2008, it was reported that the CRTC had received thousands of complaints from individuals about the implementation of the Do Not Call List. People reported that they had actually experienced a notable increase in the number of calls since registering for the list, and were starting to get calls at cellular phone numbers that had never received telemarketing calls before.[24]

However, a VoxPop study found that 80% of those registered on the DNCL had noticed a reduction in calls, while 13% had seen an increase. The study concluded that the most likely explanation for the increase was due to timing of the launch of the DNCL with the financial crisis of 2007–2010 which was hitting American and other foreign companies harder than Canadian, and where unscrupulous telemarketers that did not care about Canadian laws were using random dialers to find new business.[25]

In January 2009, numerous media and consumer advocacy organizations reported that anyone can use false information pretending to be a telemarketer and download a set of numbers from the list for a $50 fee. It took their reporter ten minutes to do so. It has been proposed that list may be being downloaded and used as a telemarketing list overseas, where there's little that can be done as the CRTC has no jurisdiction outside of Canada.[6][26] Konrad von Finckenstein, Chair of the CRTC, responded to these allegations on 16 June 2009, labeling them an urban myth, and stating that the Government had looked into the claims and that there was "no evidence to substantiate them".[27]

Technological shortcomings

A notable shortcoming of the Canadian implementation of the do-not-call list is that the list of numbers is given to telemarketers in plain text, in the form of a simple spreadsheet or CSV file without any protection or traceability. Technologies for securing personal data are readily available, as evidenced by the Australia Do Not Call Register, which "is a secure database where you can list your numbers to avoid receiving unsolicited telemarketing calls and marketing faxes." [28] In contrast to the CRTC's uncontrolled distribution of telephone number lists, the Australian system consists of a "List Washing Service",[29] precisely as proposed by the minority opinion which was disregarded by the CRTC.

On 3 July 2007, in Telecom Decision CRTC 2007-47,[30] the CRTC disregarded the non-consensus report from the DNCL Operations Working Group, which had strongly recommended against allowing telemarketers to download unmarked, untraceable copies of the do-not-call list. With the aim of protecting the confidentiality of cell and unlisted numbers, the non-consensus report had instead advocated a Query/Response methodology, wherein telemarketers would be able to query only the do-not-call status of numbers they already had in their possession. Although the CRTC had rejected the Query/Response methodology, citing grounds of operational cost and complexity, a one-number-at-a-time Query/Response turned out to be so operationally simple and inexpensive that it is provided by the CRTC, free of charge, without restriction, to anyone who cares to use it.[31] Other jurisdictions such as the USA provide similar Query/Response functions to check lists of small sets of numbers simultaneously, also free of charge.[32] Jurisdictions such as Australia protect subscriber privacy, precisely as envisioned by the minority report, by keeping the list in the form of a secure database, and providing only a "List Washing Service".

The CRTC's decision to expire registrations is regarded by citizens' rights groups as a technical shortcoming that adds unnecessary operational cost and complexity to the system, as well as limiting registrants' freedom to express their wishes.[33] On 17 June 2008, the USA made registrations permanent until the number is disconnected or reassigned, citing "...benefits to the public and to consumer privacy interests...".[34]

Another possibility to prevent using the plain text list as a list of people to call is to provide honeypot numbers, unique to each telemarketer. If a telemarketer, or anyone he has given the list to, then calls one of the honeypot numbers, stiff penalties can be applied to the telemarketer. If the originating number of a violating call is either foreign or disguised, the CRTC could apply the penalties to the telco which delivered the call to the subscriber's line since that telco acted as an agent of the telemarketer by delivering the call.. There is no indication from the CRTC as to whether honeypots have been implemented as part of the DNCL.

Non-governmental DNCL supplements

On 28 March 2008 Michael Geist introduced, a free service which assisted in the process of creating a personal do not call list. The service notified callers selected by the user from a list of available businesses that the individual exercised his or her right under privacy laws not to receive communications from the notified business. It was intended to cover those organizations excluded from the DNCL. Like the DNCL, was dependent on citizens lodging complaints on the DNCL site or phone number in order to bring charges against telemarketers under telemarketing laws. In 2009, began claiming that it was currently being upgraded and improved, due to its overwhelming popularity. It has not been in operation since, and as of 2 August 2018, redirects visitors to Michael Geist's personal web site,[17]

The Canadian Marketing Association offers a free "Do Not Contact Service". The service is limited to screening telemarketing from participating companies only. Registration can be sought by mail, phone (1-866-580-3625) or online at their website After registration, it takes six weeks to be effective and lasts for three years but is only for mail distributions. The CMA redirects visitors to register with the CRTC's Do Not Call List.

See also


  1. "What is the National Do Not Call List?". Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. Retrieved 2 October 2008.
  2. "Bill C-37: An Act to amend the Telecommunications Act". Ottawa: Parliament of Canada. 7 February 2005. Archived from the original on 27 April 2006. Retrieved 2 October 2008.
  3. Geist, Michael (2 February 2009). "Tough Action Can Reverse Do-Not-Call Disaster". Michael Geist (website). Retrieved 17 January 2009.
  4. Harris, Sophia (15 June 2016). "Still Getting Annoying Telemarketer Calls? CRTC Survey Finds Many Firms Don't Follow Do-Not-Call List Rules". Business. CBC News. Retrieved 30 August 2018.
  5. The Canadian Press (7 July 2010). "Do-Not-Call List 'Useless,' Critics Say". CBC News. Retrieved 14 July 2010.
  6. Global News. "Global News uncovers serious loophole in 'Do Not Call' List". Retrieved 14 January 2009.
  7. Galloway, Gloria (7 July 2010). "Do-Not-Call List Gets Dismal Results, Senator Finds". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 14 July 2010.
  8. "Do-not-call list now good for 5 years not 3: CRTC". The Canadian Press. 20 April 2009. Archived from the original on 15 January 2013. Retrieved 20 April 2009.
  9. "Frequently Asked Questions : National do not call list". Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. Retrieved 7 April 2017.
  10. "Bill C-37: An Act to amend the Telecommunications Act". Archived from the original on 27 April 2006. Retrieved 17 February 2009.
  11. "New and revised Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules". Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. Archived from the original on 22 August 2008. Retrieved 2 October 2008.
  12. "Who Can Still Call You?". Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. Retrieved 2 October 2008.
  13. . "The Telecommunications Act". Archived from the original on 5 June 2011. Retrieved 18 February 2009.
  14. . "Letters to CMA from CRTC Chairman". Archived from the original on 7 February 2009. Retrieved 18 February 2009.
  15. . "Letter to CBA from CRTC Chairman". Archived from the original on 7 February 2009. Retrieved 18 February 2009.
  16. Nowak, Peter (5 August 2008). "Telemarketers Rebuked by CRTC Over Do-Not-Call Objections". Technology. CBC News. Retrieved 5 August 2008.
  17. . "iOptOut". Retrieved 14 July 2010.
  18. Rogers Wireless via Canada NewsWire (18 November 2008). "Rogers Disappointed that CRTC will not block unsolicited SMS through Do Not Call List". Retrieved 11 June 2012.
  19. CRTC. "Consensus and Non Consensus reports dated July 26, 2006". Do Not Call List Operations Work Group (DOWG) Reports. Retrieved 3 July 2007.
  20. CRTC. "CRTC moved a step closer to establishing a National Do Not Call List". Archived from the original on 11 October 2007. Retrieved 3 July 2007.
  21. "Bell to Administer Telemarketer Do-Not-Call List". CBC News. 21 December 2007. Retrieved 23 December 2007.
  22. CRTC. "Facts about September 2008 launch of the National Do Not Call List". Archived from the original on 9 April 2008. Retrieved 4 August 2008.
  23. Geist, Michael (2 February 2009). "Tough Action Can Reverse Do-Not-Call Disaster". Business. Toronto Star. Retrieved 17 January 2009.
  24. "Thousands Call to Complain About Do-Not-Call List". CBC News. 27 November 2008. Retrieved 27 November 2008.
  25. VOXPOP. "National Do Not Call List effective, but challenges remain, VoxPop survey finds" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 8 March 2009.
  26. Oosthoek, Sharon (23 January 2009). "Expect More Calls Says Consumer Watchdog Group". CBC News. Retrieved 30 August 2011.
  27. von Finckenstein, Konrad (16 June 2009). "Speech, Notes for an Address". Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. Ottawa: Government of Canada. Archived from the original on 7 June 2011. Retrieved 30 August 2011.
  28. [Australian communications and Media authority]. "Do Not Call Register". Retrieved 14 July 2010.
  29. . "Making the Right Call" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 October 2009. Retrieved 14 July 2010.
  30. . "Telecom Decision CRTC 2007-47". Retrieved 17 February 2009.
  31. . "National Do Not Call List". Retrieved 17 February 2009.
  32. . "National Do Not Call Registry". Retrieved 17 February 2009.
  33. . "Transcript of CRTC PN2006-4 Public Proceeding". Retrieved 14 July 2010.
  34. . "REPORT AND ORDER FCC 08-147 Rules and Regulations Implementing the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991" (PDF). Retrieved 17 February 2009.


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