Penalties up to $10 million in Canada’s new anti spam laws

Posted on December 5, 2013 12:39 am

Canada is in the process of introducing some of the world’s most stringent anti-spam laws to combat junk mailers clogging up our inboxes. The new bans the harvesting of email addresses for spamming purposes, and seeks to protect people from the collection of personal information. Popularly known as Canadian Anti-Spam Law, the new act also covers electronic threats to commerce, such as the installation of unauthorized computer malware and adware as well as alteration of transmitted data without express consent. The new law Penalties of Canadian $1 million for individuals will be levied under Canadian Anti Spam law of up to Canadian C$10 million for companies. These fines are imposed per violation, and a violation is defined as being separate for each day that it continues. Violations under the Act create both direct and vicarious liability, and directors or officers of corporations may be personally liable for the corporation’s violations. Employers are also liable for violations committed by their employees acting within the scope of their employment. Although Canada has existing legislation to deal with unsolicited commercial email, they were seen as having loopholes that have been allowing the country to become a haven for spammers.

Canadian media has previously reported about intense lobbying by electronic marketing groups to delay the law that has been in the offing for the last nine years. New laws will come into effect July 2014, with plenty of new law provisions expected to come into effect in the next four years. The law also prohibits hacking, malware, online fraud, electronic harvesting and privacy invasions. All commercial electronic messages must identify the person who sent the message and if different, the person on whose behalf it was sent and also provides an accurate contact information for these parties, and send out a mechanism by which the recipient may unsubscribe. The law also requires other disclosures, and contains specific rules regarding how the disclosures can be presented. The recipient must be able to unsubscribe using the same means by which the message was sent. There are specific rules and time limits for complying with unsubscribe requests. Although the country is introducing stringent anti-spam laws, Canada is not ranked among the top ten locations for abusive email senders according to anti spam organization Spamhaus.

United States is the world leader followed by China, Russia, Ukraine and United Kingdom. The new data shows that pharmaceutical goods and replicas remains most common items hawked by spammers, who often use malware to infect computers to build remotely controlled botnets to send out large amounts of email. Anti-spam statistics estimates that for the second quarter of 2013, the daily spam volume stood at 54 billion messages a day compared to estimated spams of around 97 billion messages each day at the beginning of this year. The law applies to any electronic message that is sent, routed, or retrieved using a computer system in Canada, and the penalties for non-compliance are steep. Virtually every person and business in Canada will be affected and would require them to rethink how to send voicemails, emails and other telecommunications. The Canadian legislation prohibits any person from sending a commercial electronic message unless the recipient expressly or implicitly consents to receiving the message. Definition of “commercial electronic message” is very broad and includes any message sent by telecommunications including text messages, e-mail, voicemail, social media communications and if the purpose of that message is to encourage participation in a commercial activity.

Contador Harrison