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Anti-spam bill receives royal assent


We’ve been keeping an eye on the progress of Bill C-28, the so-called anti-spam bill (so called because its full title is An Act to promote the efficiency and adaptability of the Canadian economy by regulating certain activities that discourage reliance on electronic means of carrying out commercial activities, and to amend the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission Act, the Competition Act, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act and the Telecommunications Act). Now—on December 15—the bill has received royal assent. So with luck this one will come into force sometime—maybe early—this year. We’ll let you know when that happens.

In the mean time, here’s a brief look at what the bill will mean for you.

Essentially, the Act places restrictions on the type of unsolicited communications organizations can send. You will only be allowed to send commercial electronic messages if the recipient has given express or implied consent. A commercial electronic message is one whose purpose is “to encourage participation in a commercial activity”, including:

(a) Offering to purchase, sell, barter or lease a product, goods, a service, land or an interest or right in land;
(b) Offering to provide a business, investment or gaming opportunity;
(c) Advertising or promoting anything referred to in paragraph (a) or (b); or
(d) Promoting a person, including the public image of a person, as being a person who does anything referred to in any of paragraphs (a) to (c), or who intends to do so.

To obtain consent to send a commercial electronic message, an organization must state “clearly and simply”:

(a) The purpose or purposes for which the consent is being sought;
(b) Prescribed information that identifies the person seeking consent and, if the person is seeking consent on behalf of another person, prescribed information that identifies that other person; and
(c) Any other prescribed information.

An organization will not require consent to send electronic messages with the following purposes:

  • To provide a quote or estimate in response to a request
  • To facilitate, complete or confirm a commercial transaction to which the parties have previously agreed
  • To provide warranty, product recall or safety information to a customer
  • To provide information related to an ongoing product subscription, membership, account or loan
  • To provide information related to an employment relationship or ongoing benefit plan
  • To deliver a pre-authorized product, good or service, including product updates and upgrades

For more detail on the bill, read McCarthy Tétrault’s recent e-Alert, “Canada Passes Anti-Spam and Anti-Spyware Law

You can see the text of the bill on the Parliament of Canada website.

FYI, the bill does have a proper short title: the Electronic Commerce Protection Act.

Adam Gorley
First Reference Human Resources and Compliance Editor

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Adam Gorley

Editor at First Reference
Adam Gorley, B.A. (Phil.), is a researcher, content provider and editor. He contributes regularly to First Reference Talks and Internal Control blogs, HRinfodesk and other First Reference publications. His areas of focus include broad human resources issues, corporate social responsibility, corporate governance and government policies, information technology and labour market trends.Read more
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