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Bill C-27: Historic Canadian Anti-spam Legislation Battered, But Still Unbeaten

Neil Schwartzman

As readers of CircleID have seen, there has been a lot of activity (for example, Michael Geist's "Canadian Marketing Association Attacks Anti-Spam Bill”), as the final votes of C-27 grow nearer.

The history towards getting a spam law passed in Canada has been a long one. For years, CAUCE encouraged legislators to undertake this important work.

Dan McTeague introduced a private member's bill in parliament way back in 2002. In 2004 The Minister of Industry struck a committee, the Federal Task Force on Spam. I was a member on the Task Force, as was Michael.

The final report, a document about which we were and are truly proud can be found at the StopSpamHere.ca site, one of the initiatives stemming from the task force process. Many of the recommendations have formed foundational aspects of other documents in use by the OECD and MAAWG, the Messaging Anti-abuse Working Group's Senders' Best Communication Practices.

The final report was signed by all participants in the process, including the Canadian Marketing Association, the Canadian Association of Internet Providers, CAUCE representing Internet end-users, and various industry associations.

Fast forward a few years, and a few governments, and suddenly we have a law tabled in the House of Commons, I wrote about this back in May (Canadian Spam Law Update) and June (Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Canadian Anti-Spam Bill C-27)

Since then, while the bill was being reviewed by committee, as Michael Geist noted (above) some signatories of the Task Force Final Report have reversed their stance, and we have seen numerous news reports of lobbyists trying to gut the bill by backdoor means.

CAUCE ran the law past a number of key people, including marketers, consumer advocates, and malware experts, all of whom gave the bill their unmitigated approval. We sent a letter to that effect to Canadian parliamentarians yesterday.

Happily, word from Ottawa late yesterday is that the Liberal party have now dropped their amendments to insert 'spyware friendly' clauses into the bill, and there was no support to flip from Opt-in to Opt-out during the committee hearings yesterday.

Now, CAUCE is asking Internet users to sign an online petition to further drive home the point to members of parliament and senators who hold the vote over the bill, and, we are asking Canadian email users to pick up the phone and speak with their elected officials. Contact information is easily available here.

It is my hope that the CircleID community will join us to make the final push towards implementing this important piece of legislation.

By Neil Schwartzman, Executive Director, The Coalition Against unsolicited Commercial Email - CAUCE
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