ARCHIVED -  Telecom Decision CRTC 90-10

This page has been archived on the Web

Information identified as archived on the Web is for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. Archived Decisions, Notices and Orders (DNOs) remain in effect except to the extent they are amended or reversed by the Commission, a court, or the government. The text of archived information has not been altered or updated after the date of archiving. Changes to DNOs are published as “dashes” to the original DNO number. Web pages that are archived on the Web are not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards. As per the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada, you can request alternate formats by contacting us.

Telecom Decision

Ottawa, 9 May 1990
Telecom Decision CRTC 90-10
Reference: Tariff Notices 3323 and 3447
The Commission has received an application from Bell Canada (Bell) under Tariff Notice 3323, dated 7 November 1989, for approval of tariff revisions providing for the introduction of Call Management Service (CMS).
The Commission has also received an application from Bell under Tariff Notice 3447, dated 2 March 1990, for approval of tariff revisions providing for the introduction of a telephone designed for use with CMS. The Maestro telephone is a single-line set whose features include a visual display unit, unanswered call memory, and ten number programmable memory.
CMS would provide four new network control features based on the identification of a local originating telephone number.
(1) Call Display would provide customers with a visual display of a calling party's telephone number.
(2) Call Trace would allow customers to effect the recording and storage by Bell of details respecting the last incoming call they have received. This information would be available only to Bell's security department and, at the customer's request, would be forwarded to an appropriate law enforcement agency (e.g., in the case of threatening calls).
(3) Call Return would allow customers to redial automatically the last incoming or outgoing call, regardless of whether it was answered or not.
(4) Call Screen would allow customers to block calls originating from up to twelve telephone numbers. Callers from numbers that are screened out would receive a standard recorded message stating that the called party does not wish to receive the call. The customer would control the Call Screen list and could change the numbers on it at any time.
Bell stated that CMS would provide the called party with many of the benefits that are currently available only to the calling party, and that the service is designed to give CMS subscribers additional call management control capabilities over their telephone service.
Bell also stated that, subject to the availability of suitable facilities, the originating telephone number of every local call placed to a CMS customer would be displayed to the customer, including unlisted numbers that do not appear in telephone directories. Bell stated that CMS would be made available only to single line residence and business customers. It would be provided in various areas in Bell's operating territory as the necessary switching facilities become available through the company's Switching Equipment Modernization Program.
CMS is made possible through the use of Common Channel Signalling 7 (CCS7) technology. The deployment of this technology would pave the way for the introduction of a number of new information-based services, including Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) services.
In CRTC Telecom Public Notice 1989-57, dated 17 November 1989, the Commission invited comment on Bell's application for CMS. The Commission received submissions from Fédération nationale des associations de consommateurs du Québec, Association coopérative d'économie familiale du centre de Montréal, Ligue des droits et libertés (FNACQ et al); Belleville Medical Associates (BMA); Call-Net Telecommunications Inc. (Call-Net); Mr. Tony Harminc; Initiative for the Peaceful Use of Technology (INPUT); Government of Ontario (Ontario); Ontario Association of Interval & Transition Houses (OAITH); RadioComm Association of Canada (RAC); Commission des droits de la personne du Québec (la Commission des droits); and Regroupement provincial des maisons d'hébergement et de transition pour femmes victimes de violence (le Regroupement provincial). The Commission also received comments from a number of other groups and individuals.
The majority of interveners had particular concerns about the impact of the calling number identification feature (Caller ID) of Call Display and Call Return on a calling party's right to privacy.
The following concerns were among those expressed.
(1) Caller ID could allow an abusive individual to trace the whereabouts of a victim of domestic violence who is in hiding: the abuser could obtain the victim's telephone number through the use of the Caller ID feature and then use a reverse directory to obtain the victim's address.
(2) Caller ID would display unlisted numbers, thus reducing the utility of unlisted numbers.
(3) The anonymity of persons calling government departments or agencies could be jeopardized.
(4) Caller ID could jeopardize the safety of police informants and undercover agents.
(5) Businesses could use Caller ID and reverse directories to develop telemarketing lists and to return calls in order to promote products and services.
(6) Patients of physicians and other health professionals could obtain the home numbers of these professionals or even the number of other patients (e.g., when a physician calls a patient from another patient's home, the called patient may obtain the other patient's number).
(7) Calls to distress lines and health information centres could decline if potential callers believed that their anonymity could not be guaranteed.
FNACQ et al contended that the Caller ID feature would violate a subscriber's right to privacy and, in particular, that Call Display would be contrary to Section 5 of the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms. FNACQ et al contended that the right to privacy in all its dimensions must be considered, with emphasis on the dissemination of personal information. FNACQ et al submitted that the control subscribers now have over the dissemination of personal information will be reduced by the disclosure of their telephone numbers without their consent.
FNACQ et al also suggested that the display of unlisted numbers, without subscribers' written consent, would violate Article 11 of Bell's Terms of Service.
FNACQ et al argued that, even with the Call Display feature of CMS, parties could place harassing calls from other telephones and so remain anonymous.
FNACQ et al submitted that Call Display and Call Return should not be approved. However, if these features are approved, then Caller ID blocking to suppress the display of a calling party's number should be made available at no charge.
FNACQ et al also argued that if, as Bell contended, Call Display would enhance subscriber privacy, rates should be reduced sufficiently that all persons could afford it. FNACQ et al was concerned that, if Bell's application is approved, residential subscribers will absorb the costs of the CCS7 technology, even though this technology would enable the development of new business services in the future.
La Commission des droits shared the concerns expressed by FNACQ et al and le Regroupement provincial supported the submission of FNACQ et al.
OAITH also argued that CMS represents a serious invasion of privacy and should be rejected. The principal concern of OAITH and le Regroupement provincial was that CMS would increase the ability of abusers to trace and monitor their victims. OAITH contended that this would put them at greater risk than that currently faced by recipients of obscene calls. OAITH noted that, even with CMS, police intervention would be required to stop such calls permanently.
In addition, OAITH stated that CMS could allow an abuser to monitor incoming and outgoing calls where the victim resides with the abuser. It was OAITH's position that shelters and abused women should not be charged with the responsibility of circumventing Bell technology. Le Regroupement provincial recommended that Bell introduce measures that would permit abused women and shelters to protect their telephone numbers.
INPUT noted many of the problems with Call Display set out above and offered a number of solutions, including: (1) the approval of Call Display for use by residential subscribers only, (2) the use by distress centres of Call Trace instead of Call Display to trace suicide calls, (3) the use of Call Screen and Call Return to screen out obscene calls, and (4) the use of Call Trace to trace threatening calls. INPUT also stressed the importance of Caller ID blocking, particularly where someone's physical well-being is threatened. INPUT suggested that the encryption of telephone numbers could allow subscribers to recognize known codes and provide the telephone company with information to allow it to trace calls. This feature would also allow callers placing non-annoying calls to maintain anonymity when they deem it necessary. FNACQ et al also submitted that Call Trace and Call Return features could be used as an alternative to Call Display to identify a caller without a visual display of all incoming numbers.
Mr. Harminc argued that Call Display should only be approved if Caller ID blocking is available free of charge. Mr. Harminc also considered that Bell should develop a mechanism to remove Caller ID blocking from calls to emergency services.
BMA was concerned that unlisted home telephone numbers of physicians would become available through CMS. BMA contended that the application should not be approved if the privacy of an unlisted number is not protected. BMA noted that encryption could provide one solution.
Ontario and RAC supported the introduction of CMS. Ontario argued that CMS would reduce annoying, harassing and obscene calls. Moreover, Ontario suggested that CMS would allow businesses to return unanswered calls and verify a caller's number to avoid deceit by pranksters. RAC contended that there should be as little Caller ID blocking as possible so as not to reduce the benefits of the service. It contended that the availability of Caller ID blocking should be limited to domestic violence shelter staff, police agencies and parties certified by both these groups. RAC agreed that unlisted numbers should be displayed. Ontario supported the provision of Caller ID blocking on a per-call basis with the costs being absorbed in the rates for call display features.
In regard to Call Trace, FNACQ et al submitted that it would be more appropriate to tariff this feature on a usage basis. INPUT argued that no charge should be applied since Bell currently does not charge for its call tracing services. INPUT stated that charging for Call Trace would be analogous to blaming the victim for harassment.
Call-Net argued that CMS should be considered an enhanced service, because the Commission found in Resale to Provide Enhanced Services, Telecom Decision CRTC 88-11, 16 August 1988, that a Caller ID feature proposed by Call-Net was enhanced. Call-Net argued that Bell should cost the underlying basic service components (CCS7) at tariffed rates. Recognizing that there are no underlying tariffs, Call-Net argued that Bell was granting itself an undue preference over other enhanced service providers by not allowing access to the network features necessary to provide similar service. Call-Net contended that the Commission should initiate a proceeding on Open Network Architecture (ONA) so that enhanced service competitors would be permitted the same access to network features that is available to Bell in connection with its provision of enhanced services. Call-Net stated that, as an interim arrangement, Bell should be directed to file a tariff for automatic number identification (ANI) prior to proceeding with CMS.
FNACQ et al also contended that CMS would be an enhanced service and that Bell, in providing number information, was controlling the dissemination of information from data-banks contrary to Enhanced Services, Telecom Decision 84-18, 12 July 1984 (Decision 84-18).
Bell acknowledged that, as a result of the introduction of CMS, some subscribers might experience incon- venience. However, Bell pointed out that many of its subscribers are currently inconvenienced when they receive unwanted calls. It stated that CMS would provide these subscribers with increased security, convenience and privacy.
Bell maintained that the privacy rights of called parties are as significant as the rights of calling parties. Bell stated that its research shows that over 70% of subscribers have received annoying or harassing calls. Bell also stated that its research indicates that, of a representative sample of subscribers, 67% believe that the privacy rights of the called party should prevail over the rights of the calling party.
Bell characterized CMS as another stage in the technological evolution of telephone service. It submitted that, as CMS becomes well known, customers will assume by the very fact of subscribing to telephone service that their telephone number is likely to be displayed when they make a call.
Bell argued that Call Display and Call Return no more infringe on a calling party's rights than existing telephone service infringes on a called party's rights. Bell submitted that CMS would enhance, rather than infringe on, the privacy of individuals. As an example, Bell stated that, by identifying specific numbers, Call Display would enable an abused woman to avoid answering unwanted calls from her abuser, while being able to receive calls from children and friends.
Bell stated that unblockable Call Display would be a powerful deterrent to annoyance calls and false alarms. Bell contended that Caller ID blocking on any basis significantly reduces the benefits of CMS. Bell stated that Caller ID blocking for special groups (such as customers with unlisted numbers) would encourage persons who place obscene and other harassing calls to belong to such groups.
With regard to the suggested use of encryption techniques for disguising numbers, Bell stated that such techniques are not feasible at this time.
In regard to the concern that Call Display could enable abusers to locate a shelter more readily, Bell noted that such organizations can protect their locations by not including their addresses in the telephone directory. Bell also stated that it understood that staff of shelters screen incoming calls in order to protect residents. In the case of victims of abuse moving to new accommodations, Bell noted that it does not release the address of customers who subscribe to unlisted numbers.
Bell contended that providing Caller ID blocking only for selected agencies or individuals could send out a "red flag" that the calling party belonged to one of these groups, and could also, by suppressing the display of their telephone numbers, make it more difficult for these individuals to have their calls to other parties accepted.
With respect to physicians and other health professionals, Bell submitted that outgoing calls could be bridged through an answering service to prevent patients obtaining a home number. Bell noted that physicians often use answering services to screen incoming calls. Bell also noted that using a different telephone for outgoing calls provided another option.
Bell agreed that, if Caller ID blocking were introduced, emergency services would have to be able to override the blocking in order to maintain the effectiveness of such services. However, Bell stated that selective override of Caller ID blocking for regular telephone lines is not technically feasible. As a result, if Caller ID blocking were introduced, emergency service providers might be unable to obtain essential information. In such a situation, only emergency services that subscribe to 9-1-1 would be sure of receiving calling line information.
Bell also argued that Call Trace would not provide a substitute for Call Display. Bell stated that Call Trace would be used in conjunction with criminal investigations, while Call Display would deter a wider range of unwanted calls. Bell also noted that Call Trace would not be as effective as Call Display in dealing with suicide calls, since Call Trace could be activated only after a call is terminated.
In regard to concerns about the Call Return feature, Bell noted that customers would be able to purge the memory in instances where they wished to keep calling information confidential. Bell noted that the Maestro telephone would log the telephone numbers of unanswered incoming calls but that customers could similarly purge the call memory feature.
Bell disagreed with the position taken by certain interveners that Call Trace should be provided at no charge. Bell submitted that a fee would discourage indiscriminate use of this feature. The company noted that it would continue, at no charge, to set up tracing equipment to assist law enforcement agencies with lawful investigations. The company also stated that a pay-per-use Call Trace feature is not technically feasible at this time.
Bell contended that the Call Display feature should be made available to business as well as to residential subscribers. The company noted that Ontario and RAC supported its position. Bell noted that CMS would allow businesses to return unanswered calls, verify numbers to avoid fraud, and identify customers prior to answering, thereby allowing time to locate files.
The company disputed allegations that Call Display breaches the company's obligations under the Terms of Service to customers with unlisted numbers. The company noted that it would continue to omit these numbers from its directories and would not make these numbers available through directory assistance.
Bell also argued that CMS, as proposed, would enhance privacy and would not infringe on the right to privacy under the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Bell noted that the arguments of FNACQ et al and la Commission des droits are based almost exclusively on the right to privacy of the calling party, while essentially ignoring the legitimate privacy concerns of the called party. Bell contended that, when assessing rights to privacy in two-way communications, the privacy of both the called party and the calling party must be considered. Bell argued further that the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms is limited to matters within Quebec's legislative competence and cannot be relied on to regulate the offering of services by a federally regulated undertaking.
In reply to Call-Net, Bell stated that the provision of calling line identification with CMS does not rely on any underlying service components. Bell argued that CMS is a stand-alone service of four features and that no basic service costs are applicable to it since the customer would already subscribe to basic service.
Bell also argued that the need for ANI is not relevant to the CMS tariff. Moreover, Bell noted that it had indicated in November 1988 that it would provide ANI upon request and would file a general tariff if there was sufficient demand.
Finally, Bell submitted that CCS7 costs were correctly included in its Economic Evaluation Study in the manner prescribed by the Commission in its Phase II costing guidelines.
The Commission has reviewed the advantages and disadvantages of the proposed service in light of the comments received. In reaching a decision, the Commission has been mindful that the impact of CMS on the privacy of subscribers must be considered not only from the perspective of persons placing calls, but also from the perspective of persons receiving calls.
In light of the considerations discussed below, and subject to the specific directives established below, the Commission concludes that a net benefit will be achieved by CMS and that, accordingly, it is in the public interest to approve the introduction of the service.
Among the advantages that would be provided by CMS are the following:
(1) a reduction in the number of annoying, harassing or obscene calls received by subscribers;
(2) increased assistance to emergency services providers in situations where callers do not or cannot identify their locations;
(3) a reduction in the number of false alarms, including bomb threats;
(4) an increased ability to screen and otherwise manage incoming calls;
(5) a reduction in fraud against businesses; and
(6) an increased ability for businesses to improve customer services, for example, by returning unanswered calls.
The Commission's decision that CMS is in the public interest is predicated on the requirement that a form of Caller ID blocking be made available. Of the various options, the Commission finds local operator-assisted dialing charged on a per-call basis to be the most appropriate. While this option will not eliminate all potential difficulties associated with CMS, it will significantly reduce them while permitting retention of the significant benefits of CMS.
With local operator-assisted dialing available, callers will have the flexibility to determine on a call- by-call basis whether they wish to maintain the anonymity of their telephone number. When a caller places a call through the operator, the number of the telephone from which the call is placed will not be displayed to the called party.
Further, because condidential records of the calling and called parties' telephone numbers will be kept by Bell when local operator-assistance is used to place a call, this method of suppressing the display of the caller's number will be of no use to callers who intend to place harassing or obscene telephone calls and who wish to avoid identification. Other forms of blocking, including the non-display of unlisted numbers, would enable such callers to avoid detection.
Certain interveners proposed that Caller ID blocking be provided free of charge to subscribers who wish it. The Commission, however, considers that a charge for the use of operator-assisted dialing is needed to ensure that callers suppress the display of their telephone numbers only when they feel they have a strong need for anonymity. The Commission expects the per-call charge for local operator-assisted dialing to be below the level established for long distance operator-assisted calls made within Bell territory.
The availability of local operator-assisted dialing, together with existing services such as pay telephones, will allow those callers who wish to do so to maintain the anonymity of their telephone numbers. At the same time, because the imposition of an operator-assistance charge will induce subscribers to restrict their use of Caller ID blocking to situations where they feel a strong need for this feature, the Commission is of the view that it will not be used to such an extent that the benefits of CMS would be seriously eroded.
The Commission notes that Caller ID could create difficulties for victims of domestic violence in the situation where, after moving out of their home, they place a call to their former home from a telephone number that is associated with an address known to their abusers or listed in a reverse directory. Callers who do not wish their calling number to be identified may place calls to their former home from a business, from a pay telephone, or using local operator-assisted dialing. The Commission considers that Call Display may be valuable to such individuals for its ability to permit them to distinguish between unwanted calls and "safe calls" from children and friends.
Shelters serving such persons may provide additional protection by having separate telephone lines with unlisted numbers for outgoing calls or by having their address excluded from telephone directories. However, to further reduce the risk to the security of shelter staff and their clients posed by the introduction of the Caller ID feature, the Commission considers that charges for local operator-assisted dialing should not apply to calls placed from shelters. To this end, Bell should meet with representatives of shelters for victims of domestic violence operating in Ontario and Quebec to develop a procedure for the identification and certification of shelters whereby operator-assisted dialing charges will be waived.
With respect to concerns about the confidentiality of calls placed to distress lines, etc., such services may choose not to subscribe to Call Display and, if they chose not to subscribe, may wish to advertise this fact. Others may wish to subscribe to Call Display because of its use in handling calls relating to suicide and other life threatening situations. Bell should advise representatives of such services regarding CMS, its implications, and the options available to them in respect of this service.
In the case of health professionals, various options will be available to preserve the anonymity of telephone numbers, including the use of an answering service to forward calls or the use of another line reserved for outgoing calls. The Commission notes that many such professionals already use answering services and unlisted numbers to manage calls. Answering services may also be used to forward calls for health professionals when they must call one client from another client's home.
With respect to the anonymity of persons who call government agencies and the police, the Commission notes that there are statutory protections, including those available under the Privacy Act, to ensure that callers' telephone numbers are not made public. However, where anonymity is a paramount concern for a caller, the call may be placed from a pay telephone or other telephone that cannot be linked to the caller. The Commission anticipates that the inconvenience this would entail will be minimal given the limited number of times a subscriber would likely wish to call the police, the tax department, or other government agencies on an anonymous basis.
With respect to concerns as to the safety of police informants and undercover agents, these should be mitigated by the availability of local operator-assisted call blocking, pay telephone calling and the use of second lines. Further, CMS will provide a number of benefits to police and related agencies, such as a reduction in the number of false alarms, including bomb threats.
Certain interveners submitted that subscribers with unlisted numbers will consider those numbers less attractive if they are displayed. However, the Commission notes that the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities approved the introduction of non-blockable Call Display by New Jersey Bell in late 1988. Follow-up reports submitted by New Jersey Bell to the Board indicate that approximately 60% of persons who subscribe to Call Display also subscribe to the company's unlisted number service. This suggests that subscribers who chose to use unlisted numbers to enhance their privacy also see privacy advantages in the Call Display feature.
In addition, many people subscribe to an unlisted number in order that their names and addresses will not be listed in the telephone directory. The display of a caller's telephone number will not include release of the caller's name and address.
The Commission agrees with Bell's contention that the use of CMS features other than Call Display, alone or in combination, would not provide the same degree of call management capability as Call Display. For instance, Call Trace is less effective than Call Display for crisis intervention because Call Trace can be activated only after a call is terminated. Call Trace is also designed to deal with the more serious forms of harassment by providing a record for possible criminal investigation. Call Trace would not help called parties to deal with pranksters, nor would it enable called parties to assess, before answering a call, whether they wish to take the call.
The Commission does not consider it desirable to restrict the availability of Call Display to residence users only. As noted above, Call Display can protect businesses from telephone fraud and false orders and can enhance the security of delivery personnel. The Commission has also considered the argument that Call Display could be used to compile lists for marketing purposes. Such lists, compiled from other sources, are already prevalent. The evidence presented does not indicate that list creation resulting from the use of Call Display will have more than a minimal impact.
With respect to the legal arguments made by FNACQ et al, the Commission is of the opinion that CMS will not breach either the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms or Bell's Terms of Service; nor does the Commission consider that the provision of number display information will result in Bell exercising control over the content or influencing the meaning or purpose of the information transmitted or received.
The Commission denies Call-Net's request for an ONA proceeding. In Decision 84-18, the Commission indicated that it would consider network unbundling on a case-by-case basis. However, a request for network unbundling must be specific enough to enable the Commission to assess its impact and, in the Commission's view, Call-Net's request does not meet this criterion. The Commission also notes that Bell indicated in 1988 that it would provide ANI upon request and that, until now, no requests have been received.
The Commission also notes that CCS7 provides the underlying network architecture for a number of new information-based services such as ISDN. However, at present, CMS is the only local service offering proposed using CCS7 and, in view of this, the Commission's costing guidelines require that it be costed as Bell has done.
With respect to the rates proposed for CMS, the Commission notes that, even at a substantially lower take-rate than forecast by Bell, the service shows a positive net present value. As a result, its introduction will increase the revenues available to support low rates for local service.
Based on the foregoing, the Commission directs Bell:
(1) to file revised proposed tariffs on or before 26 June 1990, along with supporting rationale, for CMS providing for blocking of calling number display by means of a local operator-assisted dialing service available to all subscribers in areas where CMS is offered;
(2) to meet with representatives of shelters for victims of domestic violence to develop a procedure for certifying these shelters and, having established a proposed certification procedure, to file a tariff proposal on or before 26 June 1990, for the waiver of local operator-assisted dialing charges for calls placed from certified shelters;
(3) to issue to subscribers, at the time CMS is introduced in their area, a billing insert that explains how CMS and local operator-assisted dialing function, and to describe the availability and purpose of local operator-assisted dialing in its media campaigns for the promotion of CMS;
(4) to advise representatives of organizations that operate distress lines, etc., at the time CMS is introduced in their area, of the implications of CMS; and
(5) to file a report every six months, commencing six months after the introduction of CMS, on its experience with CMS, including information with respect to privacy-related complaints and subscriber satisfaction and dissatisfaction with the service.
The Commission approves the application filed under Tariff Notice 3447 for the introduction of the Maestro telephone, with a future effective date of the company's choosing.
Rosemary Chisholm
Acting Secretary General

Date modified: