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The upcoming session of the 41st Parliament is expected to give first reading to a number bills of importance to Canadian consumers. PIAC will be paying close attention to bills on lawful access, copyright protection and privacy.
This fall the Ottawa-based consumers group plans to release reports on virtual world payment systems, returns of goods bought online and data breaches. PIAC lawyers and researchers are studying wireless data roaming rates and advertised broadband speeds. The group is also working on frameworks for:
regulation of the financial planners,
a national securities regulator and
With the Canadian Consumer Initiative, PIAC continues to monitor the enforcement of the National Do Not Call List and Canada’s new Anti-Spam Legislation.
In early July two sets of draft regulations to enforce the new anti-spam law were published. The deadline for submissions of comments is Sept 7. PIAC intends to submit comments on both the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s and Industry Canada’s draft regulations.
In December a PIAC report called on the CRTC, which is primarily responsible for the fines and penalties spammers now face in Canada, undertake “intense enforcement efforts” in the early days of the law to send a message to violators of the new law and to bolster Canadians’ confidence in using online commerce.
« C’est l’argument qu’on met parfois en avant pour vous convaincre de rehausser votre limite de crédit : en augmentant l’écart entre le montant disponible et le montant utilisé, vous allez améliorer votre cote de crédit. Solution miracle ou piège en perspective ? » Priscilla Franken a écrit pour Protégez-Vous, Septembre 2011.
« “Il est vrai que plus le solde est proche de la limite autorisée, plus le pointage est affecté à la baisse. Mais augmentation de la limite de crédit rime aussi avec augmentation du potentiel d’endettement… ce qui fait normalement baisser la cote”, explique Lisanne Blanchette, conseillère budgétaire à Option consommateurs » Protégez-Vous a rapporté.
On Aug. 18 the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) released Navigating Convergence II: Charting Canadian Communications Change and Regulatory Implications.
“The (CRTC’s) musings about the way ahead seem to be somewhat confused in relation to what has to be done. Certainly they’ve acknowledged that the instruments they’re dealing with have been made in another era, and that there’s no particular buy-in for one view of what exists currently,” said Michael Janigan, PIAC executive director in an interview with Postmedia News.
Janigan said: ”(T)here’s a fairly compelling need for reform of the way in which the industry itself is regulated, whether that be a single act or comprehensive legislation that provides minimum standards for things like inter-connection, access, consumer protection that apply across the board to all players,” Sarah Schmidt reported for Postmedia News on August 18, 2011.
The legislation involved includes Telecommunications Act, the Broadcasting Act and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission Act.
“The appointment of former senior Conservative cabinet ministers to the boards of leading Canadian telcos is turning attention to the companies’ potential influence with the Harper government. Telus Corp. announced Friday that it has appointed former Treasury Board president Stockwell Day to its board of directors,” an Aug. 8 Wire Report story said. Former Industry Minister Jim Prentice recently joined Bell’s board.
“John Lawford, counsel with the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC), said the “revolving door” between telecom and government is nothing new. “Political cronyism is alive and well in Canada,” Lawford said in an interview with Wire Report’s Mark Burgess.
“A coalition of several public interest groups is calling on the Harper government to table “lawful access” technical surveillance legislation separately from omnibus crime legislation and to give the bill “an appropriate hearing.” In the last Parliament, the Conservative government introduced bills C-50, C-51 and C-52, collectively known as lawful access legislation,” an Aug. 10 Wire Report story said.
“The bills would force Internet service providers (ISPs) to disclose customer information to law enforcement authorities without a court-ordered warrant. Names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, Internet protocol addresses, and device identification numbers could be requested by authorities. The coalition includes OpenMedia.ca, the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association,” the Wire Report story said.
The Conference Board of Canada has recently released two studies on inequality, funded by 24 influential corporations. The studies warn, “High inequality can diminish economic growth if it means that the country is not fully using the skills and capabilities of all its citizens or if it undermines social cohesion, leading to increased social tensions. Second, high inequality raises a moral question about fairness and social justice,” PIAC board member Armine Yalnizyan wrote for Straight Goods on Aug. 22.
‘We think of Canada as a kinder, gentler country, but our increase in income inequality has been more rapid of late than at any time in our recorded history. Among 32 OECD nations, Canada fell from 14th most equal to 22nd since the mid-1990s (a more rapid decline than even the U.S.),” Yalnizyan wrote.
“Around the world, there are a number of jurisdictions who have begun recognizing the discrepancy between advertised speeds (based upon theoretical maximums) and the actual speeds experienced by consumers. Many of them have begun taking steps to ensure that consumers are provided with honest and transparent information when they choose a wireless/broadband provider including requirements that they provide minimum speed information to any potential customers,” PIAC summer intern Mike Fujimoto wrote in an article called “Rogers LTE and 4G: Beyond Sales Puffery?”:
“While Canada has typically been behind the curve in the adoption of new wireless technologies/hardware, Rogers’ announcement of the launch of its LTE network in Ottawa has meant the city will be an early adopter of the fastest commercially-available wireless technology in the world. Hopefully, the CRTC and/or the Competition Bureau will decide to be ahead of the curve and will consider the adoption of broadband advertising guidelines that would help Rogers differentiate their LTE service without the need to play name games. Adopting these requirements would go a long way towards ensuring Canadian wireless/broadband customers are provided with information that is actually representative of true performance allowing them to make an informed decision on their next wireless provider,” PIAC’s Mike Fujimoto wrote for openmedia.ca on Aug. 12.