How the CRTC Helps Protect Canadians
Navigating the complex communications marketplace can be a challenge. An important pillar of the CRTC’s mandate is to help Canadians find their way through the maze and protect their interests while ensuring their safety and security.
To help do that, we:
- Promote and enforce compliance with regulations. To enhance the safety and interests of Canadians, we promote compliance with and enforcement of CRTC regulations designed to protect them, including regulations related to unsolicited communications and the loudness of television commercials.
- Ensure Canadians can access emergency communication services. We make sure that Canadians can access services such as 9-1-1 and are warned through a public alerting system in the event of imminent perils.
- Empower Canadians through increased awareness and knowledge. We provide information to help consumers understand and navigate the communications marketplace, so they know what to do to protect their own interests.
CRTC’s ongoing consumer protection activities
The CRTC continues to enforce compliance with the CRTC’s Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules.
We also protect Canadians in a number of other ways. For example, by:
- reviewing the regulatory framework for next-generation 9-1-1 services
- monitoring the deployment of the National Public Alerting System (NPAS)
- continuing to address the issue of loud television commercials
- helping administer the National Do Not Call List (DNCL)
- enforcing the Wireless Code that we developed in collaboration with Canadian consumers and the communication industry
New! The CRTC launched a public consultation in 2015 to explore solutions that could enhance protection for consumers experiencing nuisance calls. As a result, telephone service providers have been tasked with developing technical solutions to block illegitimate nuisance calls within their networks. In addition, service providers must report back to the CRTC with details of the filtering services they offer or intend to offer to their customers.
The CRTC will issue, in the near future, a follow-up decision regarding solutions to address the use of caller ID spoofing.
The CRTC and 9-1-1 services
The CRTC regulates the telecommunications companies that operate the wireline and wireless networks Canadians use to connect to 911 call centres and therefore ensure that they have access to reliable communications services during emergency situations.
As a result, the vast majority of Canadian telephone subscribers can access either basic or enhanced 911 services. With basic 911 services, callers must specify their location to be connected with the emergency response centre in their area. With enhanced 911 services, a 911 call automatically provides the 911 operator with the phone number and address or location of the caller.
The CRTC also ensures Canadians are protected by allowing telephone companies to provide enhanced 9-1-1 information for a telephone-based community notification service which is used to notify them, via an automated telephone message, of alerts and emergencies in their area.
Finally, access to 911 services (Text with 911) for Canadians with hearing or speech impairments through the use of text messaging will also be possible where 911 services are currently available in Canada. Telephone and wireless companies have completed the necessary upgrades to their networks, and the service is being rolled out across the country as 911 call centres managed by local governments, become ready to provide it.
You can find more information here:
- 9-1-1 Action Plan
- Use of E9-1-1 information for the purpose of providing an enhanced community notification service
- 9-1-1 services for traditional wireline, VoIP and wireless phone services
The CRTC and public alerting
The CRTC has taken measures to ensure that Canadians receive timely warnings over their televisions and radios of imminent risks to life and property, such as floods, forest fires, tornadoes, industrial disasters and similar events.
The CRTC worked with the Canadian broadcasting industry and with government stakeholders to develop the NPAS. The CRTC has required the broadcasting industry to relay emergency alert messages to Canadians. The system is also used for Amber Alerts, urgent bulletins about child-abduction cases. The CRTC also encourages the use of digital media and mobile platforms for relaying alerts.
The CRTC now requires cable and satellite companies, radio stations, over-the-air television stations, CBC, video-on-demand services, campus, community-based and Native broadcasters to distribute emergency alert messages.
Canadians can access an interactive map identifying which radio and television stations as well as a list of cable and satellite companies across Canada that distribute emergency alert messages.
The CRTC is monitoring the broadcasting industry’s participation in the system. If necessary, the CRTC can initiate public proceedings to determine whether further measures are needed to ensure all broadcasters are fully compliant with the regulations.
The CRTC recently invited Canadians to comment on the participation of wireless providers in the NPAS. Given the widespread ownership of wireless devices by the Canadian public, the wireless industry’s participation in the alerting system could further enhance its effectiveness in safeguarding and warning Canadians about potential emergencies and natural disasters. Mobile alerts could be an effective way to alert citizens in such a situation. A decision about the possible participation of wireless providers in the NPAS is forthcoming.
For more information about the role of the CRTC in emergency alerting, see:
- Broadcasting Decision 2013-263, in particular paragraphs 287-297
- Broadcasting Regulatory Policy 2014-444
- Broadcasting Decision 2014-666
- Broadcasting Decision 2011-438
- Alert Ready: Emergency Alert System
The CRTC and loud commercials
In response to consumer complaints about loud TV commercials, the CRTC now requires broadcasters and television distributors to follow rules to ensure that television commercials are broadcast at a volume similar to television programs. The CRTC makes sure that broadcasters, cable and satellite companies follow these rules, and has put in place a complaint process that consumers can follow to report any breaches of the rules.
For more information, see Loud TV commercials.
The CRTC and the National Do Not Call List (DNCL)
The CRTC enhances the safety and interests of Canadians by promoting compliance with the Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules (UTRs), including those associated with the National DNCL that gives Canadians the choice whether to receive telemarketing calls.
Over the years, we have also established strong partnerships with foreign enforcement agencies to address common issues, share best practices and to take action to ensure that Canadians’ rights are protected.
For more information, see National Do Not Call List.
The CRTC and Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation
The CRTC is committed to reducing the harmful effects of spam and related threats to electronic commerce and is working towards a safer and more secure online marketplace for Canadians.
Canada’s new anti-spam legislation (CASL) helps protect Canadians while ensuring that businesses can continue to compete in the global marketplace.
For more information see Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation
The CRTC and the Wireless Code
The CRTC’s Wireless Code protects consumers by making it easier for individuals and small business owners to understand their contracts for cell phones and other mobile devices.
The Code helps consumers understand their rights, and ensures that wireless contracts are presented using clear, easy-to-understand language.
For more information about the Wireless Code, including how to protect yourself, see Information about the Wireless Code.
Protection within the communication system - public opinion research
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