Funny Internet Spam for eMail and Websites is Spicy by epSos .de (CC BY 2.0)

Funny Internet Spam for eMail and Websites is Spicy by epSos .de (CC BY 2.0)


Spam Pharma by kd1s (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

In Defence of Canada’s Anti-Spam Law, Part One: Why Spam is Still a Problem and the New Law Will Help

Canada’s anti-spam legislation took effect at the beginning of the month, sparking a steady stream of critical opinion pieces calling it an absurd solution to a mostly non-problem or “ludicrous regulatory overkill.” The criticisms generally boil down to three claims: spam isn’t a big problem, the law is ineffective because most spam originates outside Canada, and the law is overbroad because it targets legitimate businesses alongside fraudulent spam. I think all three criticisms are wrong. This post addresses why spam is still a problem and how the law will help. A second post tomorrow tackles the broad scope of the law, arguing that it is better understood as privacy legislation that fairly apportions the costs associated with electronic marketing.

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July 9, 2014 3 comments News
By K. Latham (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Enforcing CASL: How To Report Spam Violations

With Canada’s anti-spam law now in effect, many are starting to ask about enforcement of the law. While no one should expect the law to eliminate spam, the goal much more modest: target the bad actors based in Canada and change the privacy culture by making opt-in consent the expected standard for consumer consents. The CRTC, the lead regulatory agency, has made it clear that the fear-mongering of million dollar penalties for inadvertent violations is not going to happen. Chair Jean-Pierre Blais recently stated:

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July 4, 2014 9 comments News
Did you consent to your involvement in this process? by Quinn Dombrowski (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Benefits of Consent

Commercial email did not grind to a halt the day after Canada’s anti-spam legislation took effect and neither did the coverage about the law’s impact (I appeared on CBC’s The Current to debate the issue). Coverage included Microsoft backtracking from its earlier decision to stop security update emails, apparently taking the time to actually read the legislation and find the exception for security notification. There was also a CBC story about the Canadian Avalanche Centre, which stopped an email service after hundred of customization options became “too much of a hassle to maintain”, but the CBC used the timing to link the decision to CASL.

But what really caught my attention was this tweet from Jason Faber, the marketing manager at BoldRadius.

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July 3, 2014 1 comment News
Message to the mail man by gajman (CC BY 2.0)

Keep Calm and Get Consent: Canada’s Anti-Spam Law Takes Effect This Week

Canada’s anti-spam legislation takes effect this week, sparking panic among many businesses, who fear that sending commercial electronic messages may grind to a halt on July 1st. The reality is far less troubling. The new law creates some technical requirements for commercial email marketing alongside tough penalties for violations, but left unsaid is that Canadian law has featured rules requiring appropriate consents for over a decade.

My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version)The concern over the new anti-spam law, which mirrors similar worries from 2004 when private sector privacy legislation arrived, suggests that many may not have complied with their existing obligations. As Canadians receive a flood of requests for consent from long-forgotten organizations they never realized had collected and used their personal information in the first place, the controversy over the rollout of the new anti-spam law says more about poor compliance rates with current privacy laws than it does about the new regulations.

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June 30, 2014 5 comments Columns
LG Cookie Fresh Email Setup by Digitpedia Com (CC BY 2.0)

The Canadian Anti-Spam Law Panic: Same As It Ever Was

As the Canadian media reports on the panic associated with the new anti-spam law set to take effect next week, consider the following from Macleans titled “Few Companies Prepared for New Privacy Law“:

The new law..says organizations can only collect personal information for a stated reason – and can use it only for that purpose. Among others things, that means a company that supplies a service can’t sell its list of subscribers to another company’s marketing department. Individuals must be informed, and give their consent, before personal information is collected, used or disclosed..But most firms are unaware of the new law.”

The article continues by noting that “there’s confusion over which organizations might be exempt” and that “there is no grandfather clause – all existing customer information needs to be compliant.” The message is similar in a Globe and Mail article titled “Many small firms not ready for privacy rules“, which also notes the possibility of a constitutional challenge. An IT World Canada reiterates that concern in its coverage:

most Canadian organizations are not aware of the [law]. And very few are prepared to comply.

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June 26, 2014 11 comments News