Saturday, December 18, 2010

Anti-spam law enacted in Canada

On Wednesday, Canada becomes the final G8 country to have laws specifically targeting unsolicited email marketing (spam).

Being a Canadian law, it only applies to spam originating from Canada. So while it may not make that much difference in the number of spam arriving in your inbox daily promoting hot Russian software, it does mean that Canadian businesses will need to be more careful when marketing their products and services to the Canadian public lest they contravene the new anti-spam law and subject themselves to a fine.

Under the new anti-spam law, commercial electronic marketing messages may only be sent when the recipient has consented, explicitly or implicitly, to receiving it.

Consent may be implied if:
  • there is an existing relationship between the sender and the recipient, business-related or otherwise;
  • the recipient has published his email address without an accompanying statement that he does not wish to receive unsolicited commercial electronic messages at that electronic address, and the message is relevant to the person's business, role, functions or duties in a business or official capacity; and
  • the recipient has disclosed his email address to the sender without indicating a wish not to receive unsolicited commercial electronic messages at that email address, and the message is relevant to the person's business, role, functions or duties in a business or official capacity.
Moreover, the format of the message must:
  • identify the person who sent the message, including contact information;
  • identify the person, if any, on whose behalf the message is sent, including contact information;
  • set out an unsubscribe mechanism; and
  • ensure that all contact information referred to above is valid for a minimum of 60 days after the message has been sent.
Violations of the anti-spam law may be made to the CRTC. Additionally, the new anti-spam law includes a private right of action allowing anyone to apply to a court to pursue violators.

The anti-spam law is anticipated to come into force in the fall of 2011, after regulations are in place.

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