June 18, 2014 6:46 pm

New anti-spam law may not kill all unwanted e-mails

REGINA – Most of us have been there, clicking through our inboxes and seeing one unsolicited e-mail after the other.

Canada’s anti-spam legislation comes into effect on July 1, and you may already be seeing e-mails from businesses asking if they can continue sending you messages.

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Under the CASL, if companies don’t have consent, they could face millions of dollars in fines – though enforcement may not be easy, according to University of Regina computer science professor David Gerhard.

“A lot of our spam comes from places like Russia or Nigeria, for example,” said Gerhard. “Even though this law should apply to those places, it’s going to be very difficult to hold those places to account using this law.”

There are exemptions for groups like the Alzheimer Society, which sends items like a newsletter to about 7,000 people in Saskatchewan.

They don’t require the same permissions businesses do, but the society’s chief executive officer, Joanne Bracken, says it is important for charities to only e-mail what applies to each individual.

“If somebody contacted us about wanting to access our programs and services, we would only send them information about programs and services,” Bracken said. “We wouldn’t necessarily start sending them fundraising solicitations.”

When you buy something online and provide your e-mail address, some companies may take advantage of that ‘implied consent’ and blast you with e-mails you don’t want.

The one thing everyone must provide – is a way out.

“Every e-mail that gets sent has to have that big ‘unsubscribe’ button, and you should just be able to click,” Gerhard said.

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