July 08, 2009 | Spencer Kollas
Republishing of important article
Highlights of proposed Canadian spam legislation
By Karen J. Bannan
July 2, 2009
The Canadian House of Commons in April introduced a bill to create the Electronic Commerce Protection Act (ECPA) (ECPA)—Canada’s version of the U.S. CAN-SPAM legislation, with some significant differences. The bill seeks not only to cut down on spam but also addresses phishing, spyware and unsolicited text messages. It also lays out penalties for spamming, allowing businesses and consumers to take civil action of up to $1 million (Canadian) against individuals and $10 million against companies or groups that violate ECPA.
But what exactly does this mean for marketers that send e-mail to Canada? Matthew Vernhout, director of delivery and ISP relations at e-mail marketing company ThinData Inc., explained the most significant highlights of the bill.
1) In or out. One of the main differences between CAN-SPAM and the Canadian bill is consent. CAN-SPAM focuses on opting out; marketers can send e-mail to anyone as long as they have not opted out and their e-mail address was not harvested. The Canadian legislation will require marketers to have explicit or implied consent, said Vernhout, who recently discussed the bill before the Canadian government’s Standing Committee. “In Canada for 10 years we’ve had our privacy law that advocates consent-based communications,” he said. Companies can e-mail people when there is a business relationship or nonbusiness relationship. So, for example, marketers will be able to e-mail a customer who purchased something from them even if they didn’t officially opt in, but only for a period of 18 months. This is why he suggested companies start adding fields to their databases today that will log when names are added to a list—the specific date—as well as what kind of relationship a marketer actually has with those contacts.
2) Update in time. Today, CAN-SPAM requires companies to remove someone who has opted out within 10 business days. The Canadian regulation will require opt-outs to be handled within 10 calendar days. “This might be an issue for companies that use ‘multiple affiliates,’ ” Vernhout said. Making sure all opt-outs happen in what could be as little as a single business week may take some getting used to.
3) Show your face. CAN-SPAM requires U.S. marketers to provide a “from” address, a postal address and a Web-based opt-out. Under the Canadian rules, marketers will need to disclose the identity of the person sending the e-mail—and if it’s being sent on behalf of a company, both companies involved must disclose their information, including company name and contact information, including a physical address. An opt-out link is not required, although unsubscribe procedures must be listed in messaging.
4) Share and share alike. The Canadian government is promising to “share information and evidence with their counterparts in other countries who enforce similar laws internationally,” according to a press release. This means the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the Competition Bureau and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner would be able to share evidence with, for example, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to ensure people in Canada who are spamming those in the U.S. could still be prosecuted.
5) A central spam center. Under the legislation, the Canadian government will also create a “Spam Reporting Centre,” which would act as a clearinghouse for all spam reports. The unit would disseminate evidence of spamming to “governing bodies.” “I don’t think it’s any different than what the FTC is doing [in the U.S.]. It’s building a history so they can look back and say, ‘Are we seeing a trend,’ and from there compiling the evidence against people so, when they go to court, they can bring a big document and slam it down,” Vernhout said.
Posted by: Spencer Kollas at 10:06 PM
June 23, 2009 | Spencer Kollas
Liberal shift may assure Net neutrality
By Michael Geist
Jun 22, 2009
Last Thursday began as an ordinary, rainy spring day in Ottawa. Canadian politicians, having just avoided an unwanted election, were only two days away from an extended summer break.
Yet by the end of the day, a trio of events unfolded that could help shape the Internet in Canada for years to come.
The first took place mid-morning, with the introduction of new lawful access legislation.
The bills would dramatically change the Internet in Canada, requiring Internet service providers to install new surveillance capabilities, force them to disclose subscriber information such as name, address and email address without a court order, as well as grant police broad new powers to obtain Internet transmission data.
The introduction of the legislation by Justice Minister Rob Nicholson and Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan – accompanied by more than a dozen law enforcement representatives –generated an immediate wave of criticism.
Internet service providers expressed concern about the cost of the program, while privacy groups lamented the government's about-face on the issue of court oversight since Stockwell Day, the previous public safety minister, had pledged not to introduce mandated disclosure of subscriber information without it.
Given the experience with misuse of surveillance powers in other countries, the bill will likely continue to attract attention as Canadians ask whether the government has struck the right balance between providing law enforcement with the necessary investigative powers, ensuring robust oversight, and preserving online privacy.
Hours later, the scene shifted to question period, where Liberal Industry critic Marc Garneau surprised Internet watchers by emphasizing the importance of an open Internet and declaring that the Liberal party now firmly supports net neutrality. The party has adopted a position opposing the management of Internet traffic that infringes privacy and targets specific websites, users and legitimate business applications.
The move represents an unexpected shift in policy direction just weeks before the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is scheduled to conduct hearings on network management practices. For months, the NDP has stood virtually alone among the major Canadian political parties in its support for web neutrality.
With the Liberals onside, the door is open for a bipartisan effort this fall to enshrine net neutrality principles into law.
Immediately after Question Period, the standing committee on industry held its final hearing before the break on the Electronic Commerce Protection Act, Canada's new anti-spam bill. Some business groups have sought to water down the legislative proposal, implausibly arguing that Canadian privacy law is sufficient to address persistent spamming activities and that the ECPA's tough penalties could dissuade talented business leaders from taking on corporate directorship positions for fear of potential liability.
Representatives from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and the Competition Bureau and CRTC chairman Konrad von Finckenstein firmly put those fears to rest. Assistant Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham rejected the view that current privacy laws are up to the task of countering Canadian spam and welcomed the clarity of the anti-spam bill.
Von Finckenstein was similarly supportive of the ECPA, expressing optimism about its potential to address long-standing spam concerns.
These issues – lawful access, net neutrality and the ECPA – will be back on the parliamentary agenda in the fall. But on a single day all three moved to the fore with big implications for the Internet in Canada.
Posted by: Spencer Kollas at 7:40 AM
June 10, 2009 | Spencer Kollas
An interesting article from the Calgary Herald:
Posted by: Spencer Kollas at 7:48 AM
April 28, 2009 | Spencer Kollas
Here is an interesting article from Ken Magill about a new bill in Canada and how if it passes into law the differences that US-based senders will need to consider: