The summer season evokes the image of many things – sun, sea, sand, sunscreen and spam.
“Spam?!” you ask incredulously. That’s right, spam is the hot topic of the summer.
Or should I say anti-spam.
Canada passed a new anti-spam law in December 2010, however unlike its cold and blistery conception, the anti-spam law will come into force on July 1, 2014 – and change the virtual landscape forever.
PROHIBITIONS: How do we stop spam?
The new legislation will prohibit a number of activities. Commercial parties in particular should be aware that once in force, they will be prohibited from collecting email addresses through computer programs or the use of those email lists; sending emails without the recipient’s implied or express consent; using misrepresentations or misleading statements in online promotions of services or products (i.e. e-promotions); or installing computer programs on another person’s computer system without their express consent. Messages through social media and social networking accounts, as well as text messages, also fall under scope of the new anti-spam law.
ENFORCEMENT: Spam Police
There are three government agencies that will be primarily responsible for the administration and enforcement of the anti-spam law. This tripartite team, in its spam regulating capacity, will be authorized to share information with a foreign state where similar anti-spam legislation of the foreign state is alleged to have been contravened and an investigation or legal proceeding is under way.
The Government of Canada website describes the roles of these three government agencies as the following:
- The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to issue administrative monetary penalties for violations of the new anti-spam law.
- The Competition Bureau to seek administrative monetary penalties or criminal sanctions under the Competition Act.
- The Office of the Privacy Commissioner to exercise new powers under an amended Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act.
NEW CLAIMS: Empowered by spam actions
The purpose of the new anti-spam law is to reduce the amount of unwanted emails that show up in your inbox each week. Further, unwanted emails may carry an “electronic threat” to your computer, mobile device, or personal information. The new law will encourage Canadians to be cautious and vigilant about opening emails, which they have not consented to receive. The federal government’s new website dedicated to the roll out of the anti-spam legislation is designed to inform both individuals and businesses about the new law, what constitutes a contraventions, and most importantly, how to protect yourself from electronic threats and the dangers of spam.
In addition, individuals and businesses are granted a private right of action against an alleged violator of the anti-spam legislation. This claim will allow an applicant to seek both actual and statutory damages in certain circumstances.