June 23, 2014 4:41 pm

Organizations prepare for new anti-spam law

Ottawa's new anti-spam law takes effect July 1, 2014.

MIKE CLARKE/AFP/Getty Images

WINNIPEG – If you find yourself constantly deleting emails, there may be some relief on the way.

“I have hundreds of unread emails I don’t even look at,” said Jennifer Tsai, who now is unsubscribing from email newsletters she once wanted to receive.

The federal government’s anti-spam legislation comes into effect July 1. It requires businesses to obtain explicit consent from a user in order to send them an email.

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“There are going to be hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of organizations or people caught by this,” said Robert Gabor, a Winnipeg-based lawyer specializing in the anti-spam legislation.

Many groups are finding the law difficult to understand.

“I think over time it will be a little bit more clear,” said Pat Wege, the executive director of the Manitoba Child Care Association. “But right now, it’s just really confusing and uncertain with what we are supposed to do with all this.”

One of the reasons Wege is confused is that her organization is a non-profit and a registered charity. Non-profits have to follow the law, however, registered charities are exempt. According to Gabor, even though the Child Care Association falls under two categories, it will be exempt from any fines. If a company is caught violating the law, it could face a $10-million fine per violation while individuals could be fined up to $1-million. The CRTC has hired roughly 30 people to enforce the law.

“Our understanding of this is it’s going to be complaint driven,” said Gabor.

However, people should not expect to see emails suddenly disappear.

“The number of unsolicited emails will decline,” said Gabor. “It will never go away.”

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