The introduction last spring of Bill C-27 – the Electronic Commerce Protection Act – represented the culmination of years of effort to address concerns that Canada is rapidly emerging as a spam haven. Industry Minister Tony Clement’s anti-spam bill has steadily made its way through the legislative process, with the Standing Committee on Industry likely to conduct its final "clause by clause" review over the next two weeks.
Although support for anti-spam legislation would seemingly be uncontroversial, my weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes that various business groups have mounted a spirited attack against the bill, claiming requirements to obtain to user consent before sending commercial email will create new barriers to doing business online. The Conservative MPs on the committee have remained supportive of the bill, yet Liberal MPs have expressed growing concern about some of the bill’s provisions.
A close examination reveals that the bill sets reasonable limits for online marketing consistent with laws found in countries such as Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. In fact, there are four major caveats to the consent requirement.