In this issue:

• Bell’s payphone hike, Put your 2 cents in
• A fantastic victory to protect the privacy of teenagers online
• Pourquoi les prix sont-ils plus élevés au Canada?
• Online spying, indiscriminate “fishing expeditions”
• PIAC still working on truth in airline ads

PIAC, Protecting the privacy of teenagers online

“Edmonton-based Nexopia, which bills itself as “the place to be for teens looking to express themselves,” is refusing to give users the option to permanently delete their data, despite Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart’s recommendation that such an option was required to comply with Canadian law,” CBC News reported on Mar. 1. PIAC’s Janet Lo, who worked on the case, told the CBC the move is “a huge step forward for online youth privacy.” The Commissioner is now considering going to Federal Court to get her recommendation enforced the CBC reported.

Spectrum auction, Nothing set aside for competitors to the wireless Big Three

On March 14 the federal government announced it will open the door to more foreign ownership of wireless companies but would not set aside spectrum for smaller players. The wireless market is dominated by Bell, Rogers and Telus which can exercise market power to the detriment of wireless consumers. Executive Director of PIAC Michael Janigan says that while the government may have been inclined to be sympathetic to consumer and competition concerns, it had been squeezed by the predictions of service failure, made by the big 3 wireless providers, unless they got access to spectrum without set-asides. Janigan also notes PIAC’s disappointment that the public use set-aside for innovation and common use was not accepted. PIAC is also disappointed with the framework’s failure to include mandatory roaming and tower sharing provisions.

Big wireless backing consumer rights!

Rogers joined Telus in calling for the re-regulation of the wireless industry Rita Trichur reported for the Globe and Mail on Mar. 9. The Globe and Mail story quotes PIAC counsel John Lawford, “PIAC expects to respond favourably to Rogers’ application to (the CRTC to) regulate consumer wireless services but to add several additional demands to ensure a level of protection at least equal to or better than that provided in some provincial statutes.”

Online spying, indiscriminate “fishing expeditions”

The government’s “lawful access” bill lacks essential safeguards to protect consumers’ privacy. The short-titled Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act, Bill C-30 introduced Feb. 14, has weak oversight mechanisms. It allows indiscriminate “fishing expeditions” into consumers’ internet use the Public Interest Advocacy Centre says.

PIAC still fighting for truth in airline ads

PIAC, in collaboration with other consumer groups, won an important victory in December when the government announced it would draft regulations to make the airlines give us the bottom line in their ads. PIAC continues to work to on the rules to be put in place.
“Michael Janigan, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre’s executive director … would like to see no exclusions. Anything obligatory should be in the price. (He said) optional components, paid for separately, should be disclosed,” Ellen Roseman reported for the Toronto Star on Feb. 12.

100% increase, PIAC opposes bell payphone hike

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre is representing people who use payphones, including those without landlines or cell phones, before the CRTC. The PIAC flier calling for public support says: “We don’t think Bell’s proposed payphone charge increase is right. But we want you to give your two cents worth to the CRTC on Bell’s proposed price increase to four quarters (or one whole loonie) for payphone calls made with coins. That’s because the CRTC will decide whether to give Bell this price raise or not. And whether you’ll have to find more coins to make a call.” Deadline for submissions to the CRTC is March 30, 2012.

A year of PIAC publications

The PIAC team was very busy last year reporting on a number of issues that concern us as consumers. Some of the main reports produced include:
Consumers should be wary of risks in virtual worlds, Jan. 11, 2012
Change data breach bill to notify more consumers, Jan. 9, 2012
Consumers need more comprehensive protection for returns of online purchases, Nov. 14, 2011
Consumers Need Better Safeguards for Mobile Premium Services, June 29, 2011
Consumers need more comprehensive protection against late payment penalties :Jan. 5, 2011

Pourquoi les prix sont-ils plus élevés au Canada?

«Même si l’augmentation de la taille des détaillants peut avoir expliqué la hausse de leur rentabilité, elle a aussi donné aux chaînes plus de pouvoir sur le marché», a expliqué M. Janigan. «Un haut niveau de concentration mène à la standardisation et à une diminution de la concurrence.» Il s’agit d’une théorie qui, selon lui, mérite que l’on s’y attarde. Et il a recommandé au comité sénatorial de demander au Bureau de la concurrence de mener une étude de marché pour déterminer pourquoi les prix au détail restaient «collés» au haut de l’échelle malgré la fluctuation des devises » Julian Beltrame a rapporté pour la Presse Canadienne le 07 février 2012.

Next issue

• Anti-spam regulations
• PIAC reaches out
• Protecting your privacy