Latest News

Telecom Fail – CCTS Compliance Report 2019

Thursday, November 19th, 2020
Ottawa - 19 November 2020 - Canadian telecommunications companies are unacceptably failing to comply with resolutions and in some cases falsely claiming to resolve consumer complaints to Commission for Complaints for Telecom-Television Services (CCTS), according to the 2019 Compliance Monitoring Report, says consumer advocacy group the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC). "We are shocked, but not surprised, at the companies' variety of non-compliance with a simple complaint resolution scheme for telecom customers," stated John Lawford, PIAC's Executive Director and General Counsel. "Consumers have told us for years that problems exist with the process."

Privacy Bill C-11 Hollows out Consumer Privacy

Tuesday, November 17th, 2020
OTTAWA– (16 November 2020) Consumer privacy in Canada will be destroyed if Bill C-11, the Digital Charter Implementation Act, 2020 [including Part 1 - Consumer Privacy Protection Act], is passed, said the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (“PIAC”) today . This new Bill is intended to replace and strengthen the federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (“PIPEDA”) and but conversely hurts consumer privacy by removing key consent requirements. PIAC Executive Director, John Lawford stated: “We are aghast that the federal government feels it can weaken consumer privacy with a doublespeak Bill that removes a consumer’s right to protect his or her personal information that is used for any ‘business activity’ if it is 'de-identified' or used for what the government deems is a 'socially beneficial purpose'. This counterproductive Bill should be withdrawn and rewritten to protect consumers, not to favour big business,” he added.

We Fight for That – Episode 3 – What the heck is wholesale with Matt Stein – now available

Monday, November 2nd, 2020
In episode 3 of PIAC's podcast, "We Fight for That", we explore the world of "wholesale" regulation of Internet service and why it matters to consumers with Matt Stein, CNOC President and Chairman, and Distributel CEO. Wholesale regulation of Internet (and wireless, maybe?) is fundamental to competition in Canadian telecommunications services.  We give a short lecture on the concept and then interview Matt Stein, CNOC President and Chairman, and Distributel CEO, to bring listeners up to date on recent disputes about wholesale rates for Internet service and how this arcane regulatory question affects the price consumers pay for Internet as well as the choice of providers and innovation in the industry. Matt reveals why consumers should have optimism that things are going in the right direction.

Comments on Ontario Privacy Consultation: PIAC Calls for Strengthening PIPEDA and Introducing Provincial Employment Privacy Legislation

Friday, October 16th, 2020
OTTAWA– (16 October 2020) The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (“PIAC”) today responded to the government of Ontario’s Consultation to strengthen privacy protections in Ontario with PIAC’s recommendations for strengthening privacy protections in Ontario’s private sector, preferably by strengthening the federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (“PIPEDA”) and introducing provincial employment privacy legislation. PIAC recommended bolstering privacy protections – whether in PIPEDA or a new Ontario statute – by making privacy a right, by widening the scope of privacy legislation and by greatly increasing compliance and enforcement powers of privacy authorities.

PIAC Position Paper on Digital Contact Tracing Technologies

Wednesday, September 16th, 2020
As part of PIAC's filing a CRTC Part 1 Application Regarding “COVID Alert” App, “ABTraceTogether” App and Related Matters, we filed in the Appendix a Position Paper, giving full exploration of digital contact tracing technologies (DCTTs).  To make this document, A “Privacy-First” Canadian Public Policy Approach to Digital Contact Tracing Technology (“DCTT”) Related to COVID-19 & Future Pandemics, more visible, we have separated this document out at this link. This study was prepared by Deborah Smith-Webber, external counsel to PIAC. PIAC also has discussed our Application to the CRTC regarding COVID Alert and ABTraceTogether, among other DCTTs, in our first "We Fight for That" podcast, which is available for download now. Please subscribe! We are also preparing our next podcast to update you on the status of this Application.

“We fight for that” – PIAC’s podcast launched!

Friday, September 11th, 2020
OTTAWA, 11 September 2020: "We fight for that" - the new podcast from the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC), launches today. This first episode includes an introduction to PIAC, asking and answering why you, as a Canadian consumer, keep asking "Am I Going Crazy?" when you have a problem with your purchases and subscriptions; and a detailed explanation of PIAC's COVID Alert app CRTC Application, that seeks to limit government access to any personal information from contact-tracing in Canada.  The podcast is available on all major podcast providers.  Please find our main podcast page at this link. We hope you enjoy listening

PIAC files new CRTC Application regarding COVID Alert, Alberta apps

Wednesday, September 9th, 2020
OTTAWA - 9 September 2020 - The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) today filed with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) an Application requesting CRTC oversight of potential linkages between IP addresses generated by use of Health Canada's "COVID Alert" app (as well as similar uses of IP addresses and additionally, mobile phone numbers, by the "ABTraceTogether" app in Alberta) and telecommunications subscriber information. The Application requests that the CRTC ensure that all Canadian cellphone and Internet companies'  involvement in potential or actual linkages of information from contact-tracing apps to confidential telecommunications information held by cellphone and Internet companies for public health purposes is done in accordance with privacy requirements of Canada's telecommunications law. PIAC Executive Director John Lawford stated: "Now we know how COVID Alert and ABTraceTogether work, PIAC sees a potential personal information "leak" if the government uses info from the apps to ask cellphone companies for more information on users. The CRTC must set out rules limiting any such access requests by the government to protect Canadians' privacy."

Social Justice Articling Position at PIAC (2021-2022), Funded by the Law Foundation of Ontario – APPLICATIONS NOW CLOSED

Thursday, June 4th, 2020
Social Justice Articling Position at PIAC (2021-2022), Funded by the Law Foundation of Ontario – APPLICATIONS NOW CLOSED Description for Social Justice Articling Positions Funded  by the Law Foundation of Ontario  Name and Location of Organization:  Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC)  2-285 McLeod Street, Ottawa, ON, K2P 1A1  For Articling Year: 2021-2022  Deadline for Application: July 20, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. (EST)  Interviews the weeks of: 17 August and if necessary, 24 August  Offers will be made: August 28, 2020 at 8:00 a.m. (EST) 

Seniors and Consumer Groups Petition to Cabinet Restore Paper Billing for Koodo Wireless Customers

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020
OTTAWA, June 2, 2020 – The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) and the National Pensioners Federation (NPF) filed yesterday a Petition to Cabinet of the Federal government to reverse the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s (CRTC) decision to allow Koodo Mobile (owned by TELUS Communications Inc.) to change their customers’ monthly bill from paper to electronic format. “Canadian consumers deserve a paper bill if they want or need one,” said John Lawford, Executive Director and General Counsel of PIAC.  “The CRTC and wireless companies pretend that seniors and others will not be hurt but that’s not what we heard,” he added.

Ottawa, we have a communications problem …

Tuesday, May 12th, 2020
OTTAWA, 12 May 2020 – The Mid-Year Report 2019-2020 of the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services (CCTS) released today shows that Canadian communications customers face a crisis of confidence due to the actions of their service providers. Wireless issues, as in previous years, continue to lead all services in consumer complaints – with 10,527 (44.2%) out of all 23,839 telecommunications and paid TV service complaints – representing a huge 28% year over year increase in wireless complaints relative to other services. However, most disturbing in the report is that the leading complaint category for all services (wireless, home Internet, home phone and TV) was found to be “disclosure issues” – a CCTS euphemism for non-disclosure of key terms or providing misleading information about terms of service to the customer. For the first time, such disagreements topped the more mundane issue of “incorrect charges”, followed, as usual, by “intermittent/inadequate quality of service”.
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