New Canadian Anti-Spam Law Will Have Big Global Impact

A forthcoming anti-spam law in Canada is going to have dramatic, global effects on how Canadian companies manage their e-communications. Yet many don’t even know it exists.

Catherine Dunn wrote on that Bill C-28, which passed in December 2010, “packs a punch” and is “intended to have a big global impact.”

Anyone sending a commercial electronic message to or from a recipient in Canada must first have the recipient’s prior consent—and companies must be able to document that consent. That opt-in requirement stands in sharp contrast to U.S. legal standards, like the 2003 CAN-SPAM Act, which requires that recipients be able to opt out of receiving messages. 

Here are some examples of what would be covered under Bill C-28.

A law firm that sends out a mass mailing about a free conference it’s hosting. Or a beverage company’s e-news about its latest juice, sent to a recipient list it obtained from an industry association. Or a company that contacts a client list that dates back five years, announcing, ‘We’re new and improved and we want you back as a customer.’ 

Things that marketing folks wouldn’t consider spam. But now Canadian law will.

And it’s not just emails. Text messages and Facebook inbox messages are also included in the prohibition, Catherine notes.

The law also includes atypically rigid penalties, at least by Canadian standards. The Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunications Commission will be able to issue fines of up to $10 million per offense. 

When will this law come into effect? There isn’t a hard date yet, but estimates suggest as early as this fall.