Thursday, January 23, 2014

Fighting Spam with Canadian Laws

Industry Canada has FINALLY finalized its regulations under Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL).

Took the government long enough.

For this reason Vigorate Digital hosted a live event here in Toronto on the morning of January 23rd, 2014 - and I attended on the invitation of a friend. (And also because I wanted a chance to throw rotten vegetables at anyone who dared to defend spam as a means of advertising.)

Vigorate Digital does email marketing in Toronto and is therefore one of the companies that is keen on staying on the right side of the law by making sure their advertising campaigns are "opt in", "user consent" and therefore within the new regulations.

Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) will come into effect on July 1st 2014... but what exactly will it do to spammers? Arrest them? Cut off their fingers? Slap them with a hefty fine? I would like to know.

After a little research I have determined it is to be a fine administered by the CRTC - which as we all know, has been completely incompetent when it comes to slapping fines to companies using telemarketing. The fine can be up to $10 million CDN - which means that the CRTC will be going after bigger companies / individuals, and they aren't going to be that worried about small mom and pop operations.

The big thing CASL is pushing is the idea of user consent - meaning users sign up or in some way ask for commercial emails to be sent to them. Without consent, those spam emails will be deemed illegal. (And there is a big complicated list of ways that consent or non consent can be determined.)

However after going through all this I have a hunch that most of this will result in a bureaucratic traffic jam when millions of spam complaints pour in and there isn't enough people to manage all the complaints and levy the appropriate fines.

Let alone collect the fines.

And what is the penalty for unpaid fines?

Imprisonment? Probably not. It is probably just more fines or "interest" on those fines. Which won't get paid.

So my problem with CASL is that while it seems like a nice idea, it probably has no teeth when it comes to catching the spammers who choose to just ignore the laws.

Another problem I have is that this does nothing to stop political organizations or charities from sending you spam - in which case I think those should also be required to have consent. Because if they're asking for donations, trying to sell some politician's book, it is basically commercial anyway.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this Charles. I think we will find that CASL has sharp teeth and stiff fines, and political organizations aside, it WILL cut down on the crap we receive in our inboxes everyday. Thanks for coming out.


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