By: Korie Marshall

Canada has introduced what has been called an “unprecedented” new anti-spam law. It came into effect on July 1, and so far, I haven’t seen anything good about it.

Recently I’ve gotten a number of messages in my e-mail in-boxes, asking me to confirm I want to continue receiving communications from organizations I’m interested in – ones I signed up for. It seems they are all trying to figure out how to get me to confirm I want to receive their communication, as though me signing up for them in the first place wasn’t enough.

I don’t blame the organizations though. I can see by their messages many of them are struggling with how to deal with this new law, and whether it applies to them. And the funny thing is, I’ve gotten some of these notices from organizations I don’t usually get messages from. So essentially, I’m getting spammed because of this new anti-spam law.

The Canadian government has set up a fancy website to try to help us with the new law - It says we’ll now be able to report spam – which it defines as commercial electronic messages sent without your consent, and/or with false or misleading information.

That sounds good. But my issue is that the garbage I get in my in-box is not from what I consider to be legitimate organizations and businesses. So it seems to me that this law is making extra work for law-abiding citizens – I don’t see how it will stop scammers, which I think, is the real problem.

But the website says, in bold print: “If you use electronic channels to promote or market your organization, products or services, Canada’s new anti-spam law may affect you. It is your duty to understand and comply with the law.” It gives a handy little list of three things you should think about when sending messages, and lists six myths about the law – which is kind of funny, since it’s a brand new law. And it ends with a warning that violating the law has a price, though civil cases cannot be brought before the courts for three years yet. Wow, I can’t wait to see the backlog of court time that will create.

What I don’t see is how this legislation will stop people who send “phising scams” – you know, the ones that try to make you log in to your bank account so they can trace your info – or those ones that offer you free stuff – stuff that is never free. We’ll see though, maybe if I report every one of those I get to the new Spam Reporting Centre, maybe they can do something. But I think that may just overload their servers.

What may be really telling about this new law is that the Canadian Avalanche Centre lists it as their top reason for shutting down their forecast and blog email delivery system. No one will be getting avalanche forecasts in their in-box next winter. The CAC lists some other reasons as well; like the valuable time it takes to administer and maintain the subscriber lists; the cost of bulk emailing having increased; ongoing difficulties with incorporating partner forecasts; and the fact that there are other methods for people to get the info they are looking for. But I think the CAC is not the only organization having these issues. CAC would rather spend their time and energy helping you figure out how to use news feed software and their upcoming app than deal with distribution lists.

Spam in your e-mail box can be just like all the extra stuff you get in your post office box – it takes up your time and wastes space, but some if it is useful. If you get rid of it all, or ignore it, you might miss out on something important. It can be frustrating, but dealing with it is something we all have to make our own choices about. I’m really not sure this is the type of trail-blazing legislation I want my country to make.