Furor over text message fiasco prompts Ottawa's intervention

An ITBusiness.ca article by Brian Jackson discusses how politicians have got involved in the proposal to charge for inbound text messages.

Attached below is a bulletin sent out by Industry Canada yesterday. I find it interesting that the Minister wants an "explanation" about charging for inbound (often unsolicited) text messages, but it uninterested in getting an "explanation" from the lobby that wants to be able to legally apply digital locks to hardware they do not own.

While I am thankful he is willing to intervene in the failed marketplace we know as the Canadian telecommunications industry, I question his priorities and understanding of the basic issues. Telecommunications forms part of the basic infrastructure of the knowledge economy, in the same way that roads did for the industrial economy. The other key component is communications tools. The tools which form the means of production and distribution in the new economy must be able to be privately owned and controlled by citizens.

Many people have argued that Bell and Telus are doing this at this time because Rogers has egg on its face from the triple-lock on the iPhone. Cell phones which are locked by other than the owner is a business model that should not be legalized or legally protected, an issue I discuss in the updated version of the CLUE policy summary (HTML, PDF, OpenDocument).

OTTAWA, July 9, 2008 --The decision this week by Bell Mobility and TELUS to begin charging for incoming text messages has raised serious consumer concerns, particularly with regard to charges for unsolicited, unwanted, spam text messages.

While I have no desire to interfere with the day-to-day business decisions of two private companies, I do have a duty as Minister of Industry to protect the interests of the consuming public when necessary. I believe this was a poorly thought-out decision.

Therefore, I have sent letters to the chief executive officers of Bell Mobility and TELUS asking that they meet with me in Ottawa before August 8, 2008, to explain this aspect of their text messaging pricing structure with a view to finding a solution that provides the best service to consumers at the best price.

For further information (media only), please contact:

Bill Rodgers
Director of Communications
Office of the Honourable Jim Prentice
Minister of Industry