updated 03:50 pm EDT, Fri September 26, 2008
Canada to ban spam fees
Two of Canada's biggest telephone companies, Bell Canada Enterprises and Telus Corp., have began charging their customers for incoming unsolicited text messages on their cellphones, and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is passing legislation to end what he calls an unfair practice, says a Thursday report. Harper would allow the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to block unfair charges and the telecommunications act would be amended to include a code of conduct for wireless services.
A spokesman from the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association says a ban on unsolicited commercial text messages, or spam texts, is unnecessary, as cell-phone spam in Canada is virtually non-existent. Bell charges anywhere from 10 cents to a dollar for incoming texts, depending on which company sends it, but will cancel the fees at a customer's strong request, provided the incoming message are clearly identifiable as unsolicited.
At the same time, Harper says loosening ownership restrictions in Canada's telecommunications industry is not a wise move at the current economically tough times. A government-appointed competition panel in June suggested the industry should be opened up to foreign investors, but Harper believes opening up the market would hurt Canada's economy, though he admits it would encourage competition.
Harper is under pressure from opposing parties to address such consumer issues, which also extend to other industries.