Yesterday I appeared before the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology to discuss Bill C-27, the Electronic Commerce Protection Act. The Conservatives, NDP, and Bloc have also demonstrated strong support for the bill. The Liberals have been cautious, indicating that they support the principle but expressing "significant concerns" about specific provisions. My opening tried to address some of those concerns and the dialogue that followed led to a lively debate. My opening statement is posted below. Audio of the hearing available here (the transcript is not yet online).
Post Tagged with: "c-27"
IT World Canada covers the growing debate over the Electronic Commerce Protection Act, with a mini-debate between Barry Sookman and me over the implications of the bill. Sookman expresses concern that an attempt to buy additional software licences might render the purchaser a spammer (as if the vendor is going […]
The recent introduction of the Electronic Commerce Protection Act, Canada's long-awaited anti-spam bill, has been greeted with initial all-party support in the House of Commons. The bill just passed second reading with committee hearings the next step in the legislative process. My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, Ottawa Citizen version, homepage version) argues that looking ahead, the big fight seems destined to focus on the government's desire to establish a comprehensive regime with tough penalties that apply to most commercial communications to consumers. Consumer groups will likely welcome the reforms, while some business and marketing organizations may paint a gloomy picture of the costs associated with the new regulations.
The Electronic Commerce Protection Act (Bill C-27) is headed for committee review following two days of rather strange debate in the House of Commons last Thursday and Friday. What was ensued was alternately predictable and bizarre. The predictable part was the all-party support for anti-spam legislation. MPs from all four parties talked about the need for anti-spam legislation, how it was long overdue, it is costly, it undermines confidence, etc.
The bizarre part was the discussion on the bill's implications for the do-not-call list. As I wrote soon after the bill was introduced, buried at the very end are provisions that kill the do-not-call list. Given the problems associated with the list, moving toward an opt-in approach (rather than DNCL's opt-out) could be a good thing. Yet the government seems determined to deny that the bill lays the groundwork to kill the list.
Having reviewed the Electronic Commerce Protection Act provisions on anti-spam, enforcement, and do-not-call, the other major section in the bill are the provisions involving reforms to the Competition Act. The ECPA makes several important amendments to the statute to better ensure that false or misleading representations in electronic messages are captured by the law. This will mean that the Competition Bureau will have the power to investigate and take action against the use of false headers, false locator information, or the presence of false or misleading content in electronic messages.
The changes focus on parallel reforms to the false or misleading representation provisions and the deceptive marketing provisions. The Competition Act will now include a lengthy new provision on false or misleading representations in an electronic message. The three main offences, contained with Offences Related to Competition, are: