Lost amidst the high drama on Parliament Hill last week was the release of Stopping Spam
, the National Task Force on Spam’s final report.
Given that I was a member of the Task Force I’m biased, but I sincerely think the report provides a valuable contribution to the fight against spam in Canada and it would be shame if it were to get lost in the shuffle.
My weekly column (freely available hyperlinked version
, Toronto Star version
) provides some additional thoughts on the final report. I note that the report recommends the establishment of a new anti-spam law with an opt-in system as its cornerstone. This approach would distinguish the Canadian law from its U.S. counterpart, which contains only an opt-out requirement. Moreover, an opt-in system in a spam specific law will take the pressure off the current national privacy statute, which is ill-equipped to deal with serious spam issues since it does not provide the Privacy Commissioner with the ability to levy tough penalties or exercise order making powers.
While a better legislative framework is essential, a more proactive enforcement system is also needed. I note that the Task Force recommends creating a central co-ordinating body to foster greater collaboration between enforcement agencies and to provide oversight to ensure that anti-spam actions receive appropriate resources and prioritization. The central co-ordinating body would also keep private sector parties accountable by issuing regular public reports and would assist the public by establishing education programs and a central complaints mechanism.
I conclude by acknowledging that implementing new legislation may be difficult in the current political environment, but I caution that given the rising costs associated with spam, failure to act is not an option.