The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is concerned about the new proposed anti-spam regulations for Canada.
Canadian anti-spam legislation (CASL) and the corresponding regulations have taken a ban-all approach to regulating commercial electronic messages (CEMs).
All e-mails, SMS texts, social media sent in a commercial context are captured.
The broad scope of CASL means that it will impact every single business, association, club, charitable organization and foundation that conducts activities in Canada.
Without significant modifications and exceptions, this legislation will impede commercial speech, an essential ingredient of market competitiveness and lead to reduced competition and higher prices.
The legislation will obligate the sender to obtain consent from the receiver prior to sending a CEM.
That consent may not be obtained by sending a CEM.
The definitions for consent are quite specific and are more demanding than existing privacy legislation.
The legislation also requires an opt-out mechanism in all CEMs which must be backstopped with a database with the details of all business/personal relationships and removals of consent.
Administrative penalties for non-compliance are heavy. The rules would provide powers for private parties to sue under the legislation.
After passing legislation, the government drafts regulations to enforce it. The law usually doesn’t come into effect until the regulations are approved by cabinet.
Before that happens, regulations are published in the Canada Gazette and interested parties can comment on them. That’s where these rules are now.
They were published in the Canada Gazette Jan. 5 for a 30-day comment period. The law could come into effect sometime toward the end of 2013.
This legislation will also impose high compliance costs on businesses that may be ill-equipped to undertake them and will result in economic hardship for both business and not-for-profit organizations.
The result will be a corresponding negative impact on local economies.
In its current form, these regulations will impede innovation and competitiveness by needlessly channelling resources away from new ventures and opportunities and by slowing the regular updating of computer software and systems.
Ultimately, this legislation and the regulations in their current form will not solve the problem of nuisance/fraudulent messages or of nuisance/malicious software, which are generally initiated outside the jurisdictional reach of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the agency tasked with enforcement of the CASL.
Information about anti-spam can be found on the Industry Canada website at www.Fightspam.gc.ca/eic/site/030.nsf/eng/h_00211.html
To read more about the impacts of these proposed changes on organizations, visit the Canadian Chamber of Commerce at www.chamber.ca.
Or you can link to it from the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce at www.vernonchamber.ca, part of the Canadian chamber network.
George Duffy is general manager of the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce.