Video streaming services encouraged to review their terms and conditions
Competition Bureau internet sweep reveals areas of concern
The Competition Bureau issued letters to operators of online video streaming services in Canada, advising them to review their marketing practices and related terms and conditions to follow best practices and comply with the law.
The Bureau identified a number of areas for improvement when reviewing online video streaming services’ marketing practices and related terms and conditions. Under the Competition Act, the terms and conditions cannot be used to hide the real meaning of a marketing message or to bury important information, such as the true cost of a service.
The Bureau calls on operators of online video streaming services to review their terms and conditions to ensure:
- they are clear to consumers, and don’t mislead or deceive them;
- they are transparent and highlight the most important points;
- the important information is not buried in long and complicated terms and conditions; and
- they comply with the Competition Act and other relevant consumer protection and privacy laws.
The terms and conditions are an important part of a transaction between a customer and a business. When they are clear, complete and accurate, they can benefit both consumers and businesses.
Today’s intervention is the result of the annual International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN) internet sweep, spearheaded by the Bureau, in collaboration with international partners. This year’s sweep focussed on terms and conditions in the digital economy.
“At the Competition Bureau, we believe that it makes good business sense for companies to comply with the law. Compliance campaigns like this one are one way we can guide businesses in the right direction. We expect that the targeted online video streaming services will take this warning seriously.”
Interim Commissioner of Competition
Online video streaming services offer audio and visual content like shows, movies and music that can be watched or listened without having to wait for the entire file to download first. The content can be accessed using a computer or phone device connected to the Internet, using an app or through a website.
Where possible, the Bureau seeks to promote voluntary compliance with the Act without resorting to lengthy and costly court proceedings.
Businesses are invited to consult the Bureau’s Terms and conditions best practices for businesses and to review their practices as necessary.
Businesses are also reminded that the Act prohibits false or misleading representations. Adding information to the terms and conditions will not immunize them from the consequences of making deceptive marketing claims.
Consumer protection laws are administered at the provincial and territorial level and could have recourses for consumers dealing with contractual issues. Contact your local consumer protection agency for more information.