Anti-spam law coming into effect Tuesday

New anti-spam law won't put a stop to all unwanted emails, says legal expert

By Terry Pedwell, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA – A new anti-spam law that one business group calls “heavy handed” won’t stop the flow of all unwanted emails to your inbox, says a legal expert.

The Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation, known as CASL and coming into force July 1, will require businesses to obtain consent for sending “commercial electronic messages” to clients or prospective customers.

That’s why Canadians have seen their email accounts inundated recently with requests from companies and organizations that want to retain their contacts.

“We’re updating our contact list in accordance with Canada’s new anti-spam legislation coming into effect July 1, 2014,” Faulhaber Communications has been telling subscribers to its service in recent email messages.

“To continue receiving e-mails about our press launches, industry news and event invitations, we kindly request your consent below.”

The messages contain the mailing address and name of the business, as well as a clear unsubscribe feature, as is required by the new law.

Many people — weary of emails seeking permission to keep sending emails — are saying enough already.

“Getting spammed by Canada’s new anti-spam law emails,” computer programmer and artist T.J. Holowaychuk wrote Friday on Twitter.

“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,” added University of Waterloo political science professor Emmett Macfarlane.

Countless messages have gone out recently to people on an array of contact lists from organizations, companies and individuals who are on top of the change.

Many firms are not prepared, says lawyer Andrew Aguilar with McMillan LLP of Vancouver, who co-wrote a guidebook called “Internet Law Essentials: Canada’s Anti-Spam Law.”

But those who fail to meet the deadline won’t face immediate punishment, Aguilar said.

The fines can be enormous — up to $1,000,000 for individuals and up to ten times that amount for companies found in violation of the law.

Company directors can also be held personally liable for damages.

And despite the legislation’s name, it’s about more than just spam.

The law doesn’t define spam or mass messaging, but only refers to any message for a commercial purpose.

“It really appies to a broad range of communications,” Aguilar said.

Still, the law will be administered by the country’s telecom regulator, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. And it has limited resources.

While anyone will be able to complain to the CRTC about spam via a website — http://fightspam.gc.ca — the regulator is expected to show flexibility as it sifts complaints, looking for the most egregious ones.

“They may potentially do warnings or education first and then move their way up to what’s an administrative monetary penalty,” said Aguilar.

And it helps, says the CRTC, if companies perform due dilligence by putting policies in place that are in line with the law.

Things may change in three years, however. That’s when what’s known as a “private right of action” kicks in, which would allow anyone to sue companies for transmitting excessive or unwanted electronic messages.

“That’s the big fear (for businesses) at that point,” said Aguilar. “Right now it’s just the CRTC and I think they’re going to take a much more reasonable approach.”

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business warned earlier this month that most small businesses are not ready for the law.

The CFIB is telling its members to get consent from customers in an initial email message — even if they are existing clients — and then in subsequent messages as well, just to be on the safe side.

“I think this is going to be a pretty heavy-handed legislation,” CFIB vice-president Corinne Pohlmann said in a recent interview.

“It’s going to take a lot of time before many small businesses are even aware that they have some obligations under this legislation and the regulations that go along with it.”

The law prohibits any commercial electronic messages sent without the recipient’s permission, anything that results in an Internet user being sent to a different destination without their consent, and any installation of a software program without the consent of the owner of the computer.

It also outlaws the use of any false or misleading representations to promote products or services and the collection of email addresses obtained through the use of computer programs without consent, known as address harvesting.

Just Posted

This parking on the east side of Martin Street will be removed permanently Monday morning (June 21, 2021) to put in the Lake to Lake bike lane. (City of Penticton)
Parking removed permanently to make way for bike lane in downtown Penticton

Work begins Monday morning to replace parking spots with bike lane on Martin Street

Jaimee Peters photo of a Willow Midwives helping with a birth. Willow closed its doors March 31 because of a shortage of midwives. (Contributed)
South Okanagan’s only midwifery to re-open this summer

Willow Community Midwives was forced to close because of a shortage of midwives

Gord Portman getting ready for the Father’s Day dunk tank fundraiser for Discovery House. So far Portman has raised $3,000. (Facebook)
Penticton man takes the plunge for recovery house that helped save his life

Gord Portman said Discovery House and Pathways have been everything in his 1 year sobriety

(File photo)
Supreme Court Justice rules Bay has to pay Penticton’s Cherry Lane mall

The ruling found that there had been no unavoidable delay preventing the Bay from paying their rent

Summerland cidery Millionaires' Row is hosting a Father's Day car and art show. (Facebook)
Vintage cars, art and cider for Father’s Day

Summerland’s Millionaires’ Row Cider Co. is hosting the car and art show

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed Eli Beauregard facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

Most Read