Jesse Brown: Do not call the do-not-call list

By Jesse Brown, CBC technology columnist.

It’s broken.

Or jammed, or crashed, or otherwise unable to sign up anymore phone numbers belonging to Canadians who would prefer not to be bothered by telemarketers.

The National Do Not Call List website crashed too, but seems to be back up now.

This due to a stampede of sign-ups in the first 12 hours of the list’s existence. Over one million Canadians jumped at the chance to be left the hell alone. But only about 200,000 calls got through before the system conked out. Over half the country is expected to eventually sign-up, leaving some wondering if it wouldn’t have made more sense to create a “do-call” list instead.

Anyhow, it’s taken the CRTC three years to get this thing online, and hiccups aside, everyone who wants in on the off list will soon get it.

Or will they?

Inclusion on the list makes it a $15,000 offense for telemarketers to bug you. But this doesn’t apply to:

  • Pollsters

  • Newspapers

  • Charities

  • Political Parties

  • Telemarketers outside of Canada

  • Businesses you’ve “done business” with before (remember when you bought those AA batteries from Best Buy and gave them your number?)

Dear God, who’s left? It seems every nudge, huckster and annoyance out there is included for exclusion. Anyone not considered an “exception” is likely to just offshore their call-center to Bangalore in order to elude the reach of the CRTC.

You can block calls from “exceptional” telemarketers by calling them up one-by-one and asking them to stop bugging you. Or you can use a nifty, free online tool developed by Professor Awesome (a.k.a. Michael Geist). It’s called iOptout.ca, and it lets you quickly send an automated “bug off” e-mail to as many offending parties as you want.

It’s hard work to be left alone, but thanks to responsive legislation and cutting-edge technology, we’ll be done with telemarketers soon! After all, we rid the world of e-mail spam right?