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Canada Leads Fight Against Spam

Canadians benefit from some of the world’s strongest protections against spam. Canada’s Anti-Spam legislation generally keeps business from sending spam unless the recipient has provided express prior consent and can easily unsubscribe. This is the great Canadian innovation: trust consumers and citizens to control their privacy in the marketplace not marketers.

The law also addresses practices which are used by spammers, like installing software without the user’s consent and harvesting e-mail addresses from the web. The law succeeded in immediately reducing the amount of spam received by Canadians by 29%. The regulator charged with administering the act, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, has used the law to take down a Toronto server which controlled malware and to fine businesses sending hundreds of thousands of e-mails harvested from the Internet.

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre has been supporting efforts to fight spam for almost 15 years, and we are pleased with this success. Our research and submissions include:

  1. Submissions on Industry Canada’s Discussion Paper on E-mail marketing in 2003
  2. Submissions on bill C-27 in 2009
  3. A primary research project, “Can we Can Spam in Canada?” in 2010
  4. Submissions on Canada’s Digital Economy Strategy in 2010
  5. Submissions on Electronic Commerce Protection Regulations in 2013

Today, PIAC is also publishing our submissions to Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada in support of the private right of action under Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation, which will allow Canadians to sue spammers in civil court. PIAC believes that the private right of action will make it easier for individuals impacted by spam to seek compensation and will promote compliance with CASL. The private right of action should not be onerous for legitimate organizations which make reasonable attempts to comply with their obligations. We reject fear-mongering by private practitioners who claim that Canada’s Anti Spam Legislation is too ambiguous or would create significant new potential liability for any but the the most egregious spammers, who need to be controlled by the courts.

As consumer groups gather in Berlin for the G20 Consumer Summit, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre has been presenting Canada’s opt-in (positive consent) model as a template for Anti-Spam legislation around the world. Spam is a global problem, and global standards and collaboration are needed to address it. When you do, look to this Canadian innovation: Trust the public and the public will trust you.

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