Winning the war on spam: Bill C-28
Published Thursday, May 17, 2012 9:15PM EDT
MONTREAL - It is the bane of our wired world, floods of junk mail choking Canadian email inboxes with messages that people don't want to read and never consented to.
Inspired by the Do Not Call Registry, the Conservative government is readying Bill C-28, a tough anti-spam law that will require all commercial e-mails to have not only an "opt-out" option, like similar legislation in the U.S., but also an "opt-in" provision.
"It's going to be little more burdensome for organizations to launch marketing campaigns," warned Eloise Gratton, a new technology counsel at McMillan.
More burdensome says the lawyer, because businesses will not be able to obtain the initial consent required to build strong campaigns by e-mail.
"So if tomorrow I'm a new business and I'm launching and I want to contact you, where, how do I get your consent?" asked Gratton.
There will be exemptions however, if people are already a client or if they make an inquiry for information. Despite the exemptions, spammers could face hefty fines of up to $1 million for an individual $10 million for corporations, including companies abroad.
"You don't have to live in Canada, so if you e-mail in Canada you're still on the hook," said Steve Smith, the founder of Cakemail. A Montreal-based marketing company, Cakemail has international clients and has been preparing for C-28.
"In Canada [the penalties could be] big and it's really scary," said Smith. "So obviously, folks like us have to adhere to these regulations and make sure that we're really tight on them."
Cakemail's distribution specialist says C-28 will make Canada the envy of the global anti-spam movement.
"People can take pride in the fact that they're using a Canadian provider to send their e-mails," said Kevin Huxham, the director of deliverability for Cakemail.
It's not just big companies that will have to be cautious. C-28 could cover everything from unwanted e-mail and text messages to social networks like Facebook. And just as individuals can face fines, they can also fight spam with a new right to legal action.
Huxham calls the new threat of legal action "revolutionary," in the anti-spam fight.
But Cakemail's founder thinks that the new law won't be aimed at hitting mom and pop businesses who make innocent mistakes, rather it will target those entities that spam knowingly and deliberately.
"Sending you e-mail regarding gambling or pornography or any of this other kooky content that's out there, those are the folks that should be concerned," said Smith.