On or around Oct 1, 2008, in my usual got-to-be-first geeky way, I added a couple of cell-phone numbers (Don's and mine) to this list, as soon as it opened for business. The transaction was completely on-line...add number, then another number. I also added another friend's home phone number. The security was so lax I could add any number I wanted. In retrospect I should have added the numbers of the CRTC privacy point person but we can't all be prescient.
Everything was fine for a couple of months. Then this story came from the CBC. People were receiving more calls on their phones than before. The CRTC said that it was "under investigation."
Then in January 2009, this report from Yahoo news Canada - the CRTC basically admitting that they had sold the list, the do-not call list, repeatedly, for $50 to telemarketers. It could then be downloaded.
Now as we all know, telemarketers are honest, decent types, who really don't want to bother you at suppertime.* Clearly they didn't really have a use for this list (of people they shouldn't call, right?) so perhaps through the magic of the internet, the list was, possibly a little bit sort of, passed on and downloaded by a person in the United States. Nothing technically illegal is done.
One doesn't need to be Inspector Maigret to work out what happens next, and what happens next is entirely legal in the strict sense of the word. Don and I started getting automated calls from machines in the United States. Every day. We have never, ever got nuisance calls before. We only use these phone to call one another (very rarely handing out the numbers to anyone). These calls now warned us of dire happenings because our car warranty is running out or some such guff. That this phone spam is automated is even more annoying (as we cannot ask to be taken off the calling list and they cannot pretend to do so).
Some research shows that these calls come from the most shady side of the outbound telemarketing world, probably run by organized crime. So Canadians who previously had anonymous cell-phone numbers are now being targeted by this traffic. Uurgh.
(I suppose it's only fair. For many years, boiler rooms run out of Canada were targeting U.S. citizens for stock purchasing scams. It took a lot of cross-jurisdictional wrangling to get that stopped effectively.)
So I got fed up and wrote to my Member of Parliament:
Perhaps something will come of this. Perhaps pigs will fly.
* IMO telemarketers are pond-slime, second only to email spammers in their evil ways and deserve to be eliminated (see previous spam-related entries). That's right...I'm a pacifist - but we're only talking about eliminating pond-slime so no harm done.