Edited by Anastassios Gentzoglanis and Anders Henten
Chapter 6: Preventing Harm in Telecommunications Regulation: A New Matrix of Principles and Rules Within the ex ante versus ex post Debate
1 Kenneth Jull and Stephen Schmidt INTRODUCTION 6.1 A recent tragedy involving the 911 emergency service illustrates the need for regulation in those sectors that impact human health and safety. A family who subscribed to Voice over Internet Protocol service moved from Toronto to Calgary. When their young child became gravely ill, they called 911 and waited for an ambulance that did not arrive. Tragically, the 911 operators dispatched an ambulance to the Toronto address, as it had not been updated to reflect the move to Calgary. Sadly, the young child passed away. It is not our intention to comment on the specifics of this case. We can comment, however, that this case underlines the need for regulation in those sectors where the potential for human harm is the greatest. It is of little comfort to a family who has lost a child to advise that the situation will be remedied in an ex post world, if it might have been prevented by ex ante measures to ensure comprehensive and accurate 911 coverage across all telecommunications networks. In a six-month investigation of Canada’s 911 service, the Globe and Mail found that: ‘a lack of federal oversight, regulatory loopholes and outdated technology have left this country’s emergency dispatchers scrambling to locate callers who dial 911 from cell phones or from Internet phones’.2 Most North American regulatory systems, in areas ranging from the environment to securities law, utilize a basic ex post model: the regulation or statute sets the standard, and if...
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