Are Businesses Ready for Canada’s Anti-Spam Law?

The Canadian government has passed an anti-spam law to cut down on unwanted emails but some critics have called it heavy handed while the regulator has been accused of not having enough staff to deal with complaints.


Photo: Feng Yu / Shutterstock

The law, Bill C-28, comes into effect today and requires companies to prove consent from users or a confirmation of a previous relationship.

Ironically, users have reported being inundated with emails from companies over the last couple of weeks, all trying to confirm their contacts so as not to hinder their email marketing strategies.

“The amount of spam I’m getting because of the spammers reacting to the new anti-spam law to reduce spam is worse than any spam I got before,” University of Waterloo political science professor Emmett Macfarlane told CBC News.

All spam, or commercial electronic messages (CEM) as the Canadian government calls it, needs three general requirements moving forward – implied consent, identification of sender, and provision of an unsubscribe function. Failure to meet these requirements could lead to a fine or penalty from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

The National Post is reporting that businesses are gathering up hefty bills hitting tens of thousands of dollars in trying to prepare for the legislation, which may not detect all spam.

“We won’t be able to eliminate all spam, but we want to make the online environment more secure for Canadians by addressing the more severe cases,” said Manon Bombardier of the CRTC. “The enforcement approach that the CRTC is taking is not meant to punish.”

Some lawyers have stated that many businesses simply are not ready and CBC goes on to report that some fines my reach $1,000,000.

This isn’t the first case of the courts stepping into spam battles, with a court in the UK ruling against the email practices of one business early in June.