Why did some want a new Canada Spam law?
Recently ranked as the nation sixth most susceptible to internet spam, a new Canada spam law looks like it will be enacted with the intent of cutting down spammers’ ability to send unwanted information over the internet.
Though other countries have enacted legislation in an attempt to cut down on spam across the internet, the new Canada spam law goes further than most others.
In the United States, a bill called the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003 (CAN-SPAM) forced commercial email senders to allow recipients of their messages to opt out spam messages.
CAN-SPAM received praise as having definitively cut down on the ability spammers have to send unwanted content over the internet, but the new Canada spam law will go even further.
What does the new Canada spam law attempt to stop?
It’s important to note that the U.S. CAN-SPAM Act focuses on “unsolicited commercial email.” In contrast, the new Canada spam law focuses on “commercial electronic messages.” The latter appears to have a much broader scope that covers unsolicited commercial messages that are sent by text messaging to smart phones, instant messaging (IM), and arguably unsolicited commercial messages sent using social networking like Facebook and Twitter.
Rather than requiring spammers to allow recipients to opt of out spam messages, Canada’s law requires spammers to first have a relationship with a recipient before sending messages out. In this way, individuals are required to ‘opt in’ to spam rather than allowing individuals the option of opting out of spam messages. The intent with this aspect of the new Canada spam law is to give consumers and individuals ultimate control over who contacts them, and over what messages are conveyed to them.
Coupled with other restrictions on marketers’ attempts to flood the internet with messages, the Canadian law seeks to help consumers avoid the burden of tiresome spam emails and messages. The idea behind the bill has been to allow Canadians to have better internet connections, free from the malware, spam and other unwanted influences that result from massive anonymous marketing attempts.
What else would the new Canada spam law do?
Though the bill receives praise for its vigorous attempt to protect Canadians from unwanted messages, the bill also hurts Canadian companies desiring to legitimately advertise and do business in the country. Restrictions about sending advertisements and messages to only certain people when those people expressly want to hear the message undermines a good deal of the freedom companies have thus far had to spread messages and to endorse their product.
The new Canada spam law might even restrict valuable speech freedoms as it prevents advertisers to freely communicate with consumers, as had been the case in the past. Fines for violating the Canadian law stretch to even 10 million Canadian Dollars. This, coupled with the law’s allowance of individual suits against companies or organizations sending spam to them could result in a stifling of speech in Canada, but perhaps the benefits of a more effective internet warrant that tradeoff.
U.S. Businesses and the new Canada Spam Law
If your online prospects include Canadians, even if you’re based in the United States, you will want to comply with the new Canada spam law when it goes into effect (probably in 2012). The U.S. and Canadian governments have a history of cooperating in spamming cases. Of course, if you have any questions about sending commercial electronic messages to our northern neighbors, your best bet is consult with a Canadian lawyer about complying with Canada spam law as it exists now and in the future.