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Canada's Anti-spam Bill C-28 is the Law of the Land

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Neil Schwartzman


It's been a long time coming, but Canada has an anti-spam law, and one, which sets a new world standard, and a tough, but fair, opt-in protocol for everyone in North America who sends commercial email and other electronic messages.

Yesterday, The Canadian Senate voted to accept Bill C-28, and today, December 15, at 13:00 eastern, it will be given Royal Asset of the Governor General of Canada, His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston.

It has been a long, arduous road to get to this point. In 1998, born as an offspring of U.S. anti-spam organization CAUCE, CAUCE Canada came into being.

Our mission? To get an anti-spam law passed in Canada.

Over these dozen years, there were fits and spurts along the way, with private member's bills like that of Dan McTeague, and Senator Oliver, and several others. In 2004-2005 CAUCE played a prominent role in The Federal Task Force on Spam with full hopes of a law being forthcoming.

Years passed, and despite the final report of FASTF being readily accepted, and in fact setting standards world-wide as the seed for other laws, regulations and industry best practices, still no law.

Then, in 2009, a breakthrough — a bill, C-27, was introduced. Over the course of the year, there was testimony by CAUCErs Matt Vernhout & Dennis Dayman to parliamentary committee. There was support. There were naysayers. There was misinformation right up to the last minute, and there was grassroots use of social media.

There was heavy lobbying against the bill, and there was Conservative Minister of Industry Tony Clement who stuck to his guns and resisted attempts to gut the bill. That session of parliament came and went, and in 2010, the bill, slightly amended to deal with some technical issues, was re-introduced. Senders, industry, receivers, politicians from all parties, mandarins, and CAUCE were all in agreement: Canada needed a law, and C-28 wasn't just good enough — it was great. C-28 now sets a best-of-breed world standard.

To all my colleagues worldwide who have helped this effort in every way possible, I extend my deepest gratitude and most profound thanks, particularly to Scott Hazen Mueller whose visionary thought lead to the creation of CAUCE in 1997.

We have had many board members come and go along the way, but CAUCE founding members Mike 'der Mouse' Parker, John Levine, JD Falk, and Chris Lewis stuck with the organization through highs and lows; through it all, with solid support and determination, and they deserve special mention for 12 years of work. Our newest additions, Dr. Joe St. Sauver and Shaun Brown provided sage guidance in the final stretch. Gentlemen, I thank you all, as do all Canadians (whether they know it or not) for your help to get us here.

CAUCE must also share congratulations with many from Industry Canada: André Leduc, Richard Simpson, Michael Binder, Jennifer Kealy, Shari Scott, Andy Kaplan-Myrth, Serge Presseau, Janet Difrancesco, and many others - please forgive me if your names are forgotten in my excitement to write this - your support and work are decidedly not.

My friend Tom Copland of the Canadian Association of Internet Providers, CAIP, was a stalwart supporter of this bill, and he too merits our thanks. Of course, The Right Honourable Tony Clement who was nothing less than fantastic, for understanding the Internet well enough to have a vision, and a Twitter account, @TonyClement_MP which I abused mercilessly.

CAUCE has an incredibly talented and diverse board, with legal experts, top-notch markers, malware & botnet research elites, all faced with no shortage of work ahead to see that the law is properly implemented, and applied.

Someone recently said C-28 renders CAN SPAM obsolete. Just so, but there is still much work for us to do, to promote a harmonized legal régime throughout North America and the Caribbean, and internationally. CAUCE will continue to be there, nagging, cajoling, pleading, advocating and demanding that the governments of the world put into place legal protections for all users of the Internet.

Governments, Politicians and Bureaucrats take note: We are your brothers, your mothers, fathers, friends and sisters. We are not consumers, we are Internet users. Respect us for that, do your duty, and protect our right to enjoy our connective technologies unsullied by the harassment of abusive, unwanted communications in all its manifestations. Your job is to draw distinct lines, well overdue, to stop rampant insanity perpetrated upon us all by the rapaciously greedy violators of our fundamental right to privacy.

The net is a place where commerce is done, but it is far more so a place where friends meet, people fall in love, students learn, dissidents agitate for political change, artists create, and folks live an enriching part of their lives. C-28 and laws like it help to protect this invaluable resource, our worldwide shared commons. Today, C-28 made all this a little more possible, and I couldn't be happier or more proud.

One down, so many more to go! Onwards!

By Neil Schwartzman, Executive Director, The Coalition Against unsolicited Commercial Email - CAUCE. More blog posts from Neil Schwartzman can also be read here.

Related topics: Cybercrime, Email, Law, Policy & Regulation, Privacy, Spam



Congratulations to all at CAUCE and Industry Wout de Natris  –  Dec 15, 2010 7:18 AM PDT

Congratulations to all at CAUCE and Industry Canada. Remember this is the first step.

1. Anti spam/malware law
2. Enforce
3. Fine just and proper
4. Prepare your judges for what is to come.

Looking forward to the first results in 2011!

Wout de Natris

Well said, Wout Suresh Ramasubramanian  –  Dec 17, 2010 1:19 AM PDT

[hmm - I just typed W into the comment title field and firefox filled that out all by itself, so I'll let that comment stand]

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