All you need to know about Canadian Anti Spamming Laws

SPAM, an acronym for Silly, Pointless and Annoying Messages are no more silly though they are mostly pointless and certainly annoying.  Silly, they are not as they are crafted by a crafty set of people with an intention to defraud in most cases. And yes, quite a few do fall for the long story and face the consequences.

Almost like water hyacinth, an invasive, water-borne plant, SPAM is being treated with just as much concern.

In its quest to stop this menace in its tracks, the Canadian Government has instituted the FISA or “The Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam Act” of 15th December 2010. Given its assent by the House of Commons, it replaces an earlier law called The Electronic Commerce Protection Act or ECPA.

Despite the law being passed, it is yet to find application as regulatory issues are yet to be addressed. There are speculations doing the rounds that certain powerful lobbies belonging to the marketing companies which may get affected are trying to see to it that the law gets scuttled before it see the light of the day.

Where implemented, the law would affect

  • All communication sent by Canadian Companies
  • All communication sent to Canadian Companies
  • All messages routed through Canadian servers wherever they be

As regards the term Communication, it would include e-mails, SMS communication of anything be it text, images, voice or sounds and includes communication by technologies yet to be devised.

The law expressly states that bulk emails would be to only be sent to individuals who have opted-in to receive the same. The act of opting-in need not be express but can be implicit which may among other things include engaging in transaction(s) with a marketer. Implicit consent would be taken as such where an individual’s contact details ie telephone number, email ID and address are mentioned in a public directory accessible to all. Where the recipient contends that the consent has not been given explicitly or otherwise, it is up to the marketer i.e. sender of the email to prove otherwise.The enforcement of the law (as and when it becomes fully implementable) would be in the hands of three organizations namely the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner. The law provides for CRTC to levy fines on an individual and business that contravenes the Act. The quantum of such fines may be fixed by the law from time to time. Each violation shall result in a fine.

Despite a law being passed, Canadian citizens and specialists on the subject criticize it stating that nothing much shall be achieved as 70% of the SPAM being generated are from other countries where Canadian Laws do not matter such as Russia, the US and West African countries.A case of the tiger yet to grow its teeth? Given the menace of e-mail and online Spam, it just may have to grow them all over its body!

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