I have written frequently about the need for Canada to move forward on anti-spam legislation (I was a member of the National Task Force on Spam that unanimously concluded that such laws are needed). More recently, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada echoed the call for anti-spam legislation. This week, both the Conservatives and the Liberals raised the spam issue and in the process provided a clear point of difference.
On Monday, the Government of Canada and the RCMP demonstrated that effective action is not in the cards. As part of fraud prevention month, the RCMP issued a release (posted on the GOC news site) announcing that "Canadian consumers can now sign up for a free service to reduce the amount of unsolicited commercial email they receive." The Government's proposed solution? Signing up for e-MPS, the U.S. Direct Marketing Association's widely discredited do-not-email list. Leaving aside the fact that this is nothing new – the DMA launched it seven years ago – the list was never a success (even the DMA has admitted as much) with respected anti-spam groups such as Spamhaus and Junkbusters warning consumers against registering for the list. Under Canadian law, consumers shouldn't have to opt-out of spam – marketers must obtain their opt-in consent. Moreover, no spammer subscribes to the DMA's eMPS service which means that contrary to the RCMP's claims, Canadians will experience absolutely no reduction in the spam they receive.
Meanwhile, yesterday Liberal leader Stephane Dion staked out his party's position on spam in a speech on crime. In addition to calling for mandatory security breach notification and identity theft legislation, Dion said the following about spam:
"we need laws implementing the recommendations of the federal Task Force on Spam – recommendations that have so far been ignored by the Conservatives. Spam is the weapon of choice for identity thieves, who use phony e-mails to trick people into revealing personal information. Canada is the only G-8 country without anti-spam legislation, and a Liberal government led by me will change that."
I believe that's a position that all the political parties should endorse.