Then-Industry Minister Tony Clement promised that the law would “protect Canadian businesses and consumers from harmful and misleading online threats,” but nearly a year later, the law is in limbo, the victim of a fight over regulations that threaten to delay implementation for many more months.
Although support for anti-spam legislation would seemingly be uncontroversial, various business groups mounted a spirited attack against the bill during the legislative process, claiming requirements to obtain user consent before sending commercial email would create new barriers to doing business online. Passing the anti-spam legislation ultimately proved far more difficult than most anticipated with groups seeking to water down tough provisions and greatly expand the list of exceptions to the general rules on obtaining user consent.
Months later, my weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) reports it is dÃ©jÃ vu all over again as the government works to finalize the regulations for the anti-spam legislation and the same groups make many of the same arguments. A call for comment over the summer from both Industry Canada and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (enforcement of the law is shared by the CRTC, Competition Bureau, and Privacy Commissioner of Canada) generated dozens of responses, most of which begin by congratulating the government on passing anti-spam legislation and then proceeded to urge significant amendments.