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Strict New Anti-Spam Regulations In Canada 101

An anonymous reader writes "David Reese provides an interesting analysis of just how far Canada's new anti-spam legislation goes, and its implications for business. This may provide a valuable template for citizens of other countries, and may also encourage Canadians to prepare for the inevitable push-back from spammers. It is not clear from this analysis whether the legislation would affect telemarketing, but even if it does not it provides a useful precedent for future regulation in that area."
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Strict New Anti-Spam Regulations In Canada

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  • by i kan reed ( 749298 ) on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @03:32PM (#44311065) Homepage Journal

    About time, these companies that deem you to want to know about their "special offers" are a horrible blight on people who want relevant information. Too bad the U.S. government hates non-corporation people.

    • About time, these companies that deem you to want to know about their "special offers" are a horrible blight on people who want relevant information. Too bad the U.S. government hates non-corporation people.

      Or the U.S. government doesn't want to put the final nail in the U.S. Post Office's coffin.

      • No, I'm pretty sure there's a faction that has been actively trying to do exactly that for decades, irrespective of the existence of the internet.

      • by suutar ( 1860506 )
        I would think opt-in would help the post office, by pushing unsolicited mail back from email to paper. Or were you assuming an opt-in approach to the post office as well?
    • Try unsubscribing (Score:4, Informative)

      by clarkkent09 ( 1104833 ) on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @04:02PM (#44311281)

      I used to just delete spam but one day I went through a whole bunch of them and clicked on unsubscribe. The amount of spam went down to almost nothing. Totally worth the 15 min of effort. Legitimate companies (who make up most of the spam I get these days) honor unsubscribe requests, the illegitimate ones will not care about any anti-spam laws anyway.

      • It's still an unnecessary hassle to reduce the noise levels. Nobody asked for it.

        • by Beardo the Bearded ( 321478 ) on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @04:31PM (#44311553)

          Then filter out any email with the word "unsubscribe" and whitelist the stuff you do want.

          In real life, you still have to take out the garbage and recycling.

          • The difference is nobody sends you unwanted garbage bags

            • by aclarke ( 307017 )
              If only that was true. I'm mysified how it's legal (in Canada) for people to dump piles advertising printed on dead trees on my driveway several times a week. Why is there no opt-out of that, or better yet, opt-in?
              • by dryeo ( 100693 )

                Put a sign up, "No Papers Delivered Here". Works for some people I know with the community papers full of flyers in the Fraser Valley.

              • Those dead trees, when exploited reasonably like they are in Canada, are a renewable resource and generate employment. They are also very useful when starting a fireplace fires.
          • by icebike ( 68054 )

            In real life, you still have to take out the garbage and recycling.

            But in digital life, computers do that for me.

            Why would I spend one minute evaluating spam, when Google or Spam Assassin can do it for me?

            • I have done exactly that. I have pretty much eliminated all the spam which had an "unsubscribe" link. I am left with a fair amount of traffic that does not have an "unsubscribe" link in the body of the message. The from addresses seem to morph daily, so setting a "whitelist" or "blacklist" is kind of hard. I quickly peruse my spam folder every day and take out the messages that are not spam, then empty the folder once a day. Now what is bothering me is the messages that get into the spam folder which are n
      • by Khopesh ( 112447 ) on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @04:33PM (#44311591) Homepage Journal

        Hi. I'm in the anti-spam business. You got lucky.

        A lot of spammers use fake unsubscribe links as a way of verifying your address and the fact that you read the message. Some questionable businesses have verification elements to their unsubscribe links that will note the fact that you visited the site but then due to a bug fail to process your unsubscribe attempt (thus netting the same effect).

        I will sometimes unsubscribe from things, but that's because I want to see how successful it was (and I can deal with the trouble caused by attracting more spam). I do not suggest this for others. Use sites like myWOT [] to research the link before trusting it enough to follow it and perform the request. Use sites like SpamCop [] and KnujOn [] (and, if you're in France, Signal Spam [], which has legal enforcement power) to report anything else as spam. All of those reporting agencies are tied to actual enforcement (in some way; KnujOn busts registrars, SpamCop informs network operators (and builds its blocklist), Signal Spam prosecutes if in France).

      • by Tom ( 822 )

        Legitimate companies don't send you crap that you didn't sign up for.

        I unsubscribe from stuff when I actually did want it once, or if I registered somewhere and probably forgot to uncheck the "please fill my inbox with crap" box.

        But everything that is actually unsolicited commercial email will very, very, likely not come from a legitimate company, because those wouldn't subscribe you to anything without your knowledge in the first place.

        What you do when you click on that link is considerably raising the val

      • by icebike ( 68054 )

        I used to just delete spam but one day I went through a whole bunch of them and clicked on unsubscribe. The amount of spam went down to almost nothing. Totally worth the 15 min of effort. Legitimate companies (who make up most of the spam I get these days) honor unsubscribe requests, the illegitimate ones will not care about any anti-spam laws anyway.

        Perhaps things have changed. But probably that only works with companies you actually signed up with yourself at one time.

        The bulk of spam is something you've never signed up for, and historically unsubscribing simply got your address passed on
        to someone else who would start sending you spam. You might be surprised how often this is still the case. I will occasionally
        signup for some temporary thing with a unique name and see how far it spreads.

        With Spamassassin or gmail filtering my mail these days I get

      • If they were legitimate they wouldnt have spammed you or me in the first place. Report them all to and Spamcop they get enough complaints they will get big fines. Who spams me now? Facebook,E harmony they have a massive TV ad campaign going on as well now. breyers ice cream, but hate breyers its nothing but air. Which is another complaint i have we are getting assraped by ice-cream makers. I dont unsud from anything i never used or asked for and thats that it all gets reported. PS wasn't the
  • So what... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kinwolf ( 945345 ) on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @03:33PM (#44311067)
    I live in Canada, and we still get tons of spam, telemarketing phones calls on home line and cel phone. They simply come from the USA now. Country laws are useless when crime has no more frontier.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      As another Canadian I have to say my personal fav is US spam telling me how i can get cheap drugs in Canada.

      Don't worry, after all the exemptions you will still get spam.

      You know the first exemption will be "politicians" sending mass email.

    • by Cabriel ( 803429 )

      Speaking as a Canadian, if a telemarketer from the US calls a Canadian phone, they have to abide by Canadian laws regarding the phone call as should be described in our trade agreements for doing cross-border business. Sign up for the Canadian Do Not Call Registry. It works.

      • Agreed. Since being on the list, the number of calls I get from marketing companies at supper time is practically zero.
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

      I don't know if you can do this in Canada but I set my phone to automatically send "out of area" calls to voicemail. It's really effective because the spammers waste their time talking to a machine and it's easy for me to simple delete anything from numbers I don't recognize without even listening to them.

  • seems they have been doing alot more right than wrong recently.
    • I guess you missed Bills C-30 and C-46 which would have forced ISP's to give police access to information on all Canadian Internet subscribers and all their private communications – without a court warrant.

      And you must have also missed Vic Toews, former Conservative Minister of Public Safety, saying to an opponent that "he can either stand with us or with the child pornographers."

      If Canada is doing anything right, its on account of it's citizenry fighting back against its government.

      • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

        Pretty sure that no one missed it. Rather that the general public was wholly against the law, made their displeasure known, and it was killed hard and fast for being stupid. Regardless of that, it would have ended up at the supreme court and would have been struck down as over-reaching. Similar to how the warrantless tapping of phones was struck down as unconstitutional even in exigent circumstances(as a note---that was the same wording in C30 and C46.).

        Of course it was also the same government that you'

  • by denis-The-menace ( 471988 ) on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @03:34PM (#44311083)

    You know. The ones for political campaigning, well connected people, etc.

    Every single one of these Anti-Spam laws come with them.

    • Sounds very similar to the telemarketing Do Not Call List.

      Same problems likely. Too many loopholes. No enforcement.

      However it is a step in the right direction. Seems every now and again they might try and make an example of the very worst to make it look like they are actually doing anything about it.

      Anyway got to start somewhere I suppose, even if useless and toothless. Typically this kind of legislation is setup to get at the worst offenders, while allowing a lot a pass for economic reasons mostly. Even i

  • by ArcadeMan ( 2766669 ) on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @03:37PM (#44311103)

    Any reply to this comment will be treated as unwanted spam.

    Being Canadian, however, I feel the need to say that I'm sorry if my comment offended anyone.

    • by atom1c ( 2868995 )

      LOL! Well, if any comment is treated as unwanted spam, then I might as well laud you for your actions and attempt at humour... cuz nobody ever wants to be recognized for any actions they've ever taken.

  • by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @03:38PM (#44311115)
    There are tons of regulations etc against spam in many countries. Guess what? The people running the spam/scan email systems simply do not care. There is zero enforcement of these rules, so why should adding more regulations make any difference?
    • by msobkow ( 48369 )

      Yeah, I expect it to be about as useful as the "Do Not Call" registry.

    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      There is zero enforcement of these rules

      Often it's because either the perpetrators are in a different country, and/or they are small fly-by-night "shadow" companies that shuffle names and recombine every couple of weeks such that you can't find them.

    • There are tons of regulations etc against spam in many countries. Guess what? The people running the spam/scan email systems simply do not care. There is zero enforcement of these rules, so why should adding more regulations make any difference?

      Not at all. It looks like Canada has pretty much copied its legislation from Australia, and the Australian laws have been working pretty well for several years.

      You can only send ads/spam if you have an established business relationship with the recipient or have opted in in some manner (filled out some kind of promotional form, most likely), and every message must have a working unsubscribe link. The amount of spam generated by Australia dropped to almost zero compared to what it was before the legislation

    • by sjames ( 1099 )

      The fines are big enough to make law enforcement interested.

  • by Gothmolly ( 148874 ) on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @03:39PM (#44311117)

    Oh wait, that's happening already. Thanks for a useless law.

    • by KPU ( 118762 )

      Many businesses spam customers. Banks are especially bad about this. No I would not like a balance transfer.

  • Do Not Call List (Score:3, Insightful)

    by intermodal ( 534361 ) on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @03:41PM (#44311133) Homepage Journal

    I expect that this will probably be about as frequently enforced at the USA's National Do Not Call List.

    • Well, the Canadian DNC list had the effect that now all telemarketing calls to Canada come from Texas. I'm all for a law that stops Canada being a spam source, even if they just incorporate in Texas. It narrows the field, and makes it easier for me to decide if something's legit or not. Once all calls and emails coming from Texas are deemed unsolicited, it's an easy step to blocking Texas until they clean up their act.

    • by Khopesh ( 112447 )

      I expect that this will probably be about as frequently enforced at the USA's National Do Not Call List.

      I agree. It takes a substantial amount of infrastructure to merely facilitate a complaint-receiving mechanism let alone to act on it. (I would know, I work on SpamCop, and our "enforcement" consists of sending abuse reports to network owners and/or blocklisting IPs on the SpamCop Block List.)

  • They don't think that maybe email should be retired and replaced with a secure technology? Maybe they can get started legislature that will mandate more memory for the Atari 2600.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I think opt-in is the only way it should be done. Germany also has this i think, double opt-in via email is the method implemented, so you even have to confirm your opt-in. I dont think it will harm businesses as much as stated in the article as it is working elsewhere. What is interesting is the penalties. I think they should be percentage of gross earnings instead of a flat rate penalty. The biggest issue which is not addressed is not spam from canadian firms but spam coming from other countries where the

    • by Khopesh ( 112447 )

      You "opt in" whenever your RFID badge is scanned at a conference or buy a product online. That's why they're giving out so many "free" iPads at conferences.

      Most businesses claim that they would be crippled by using confirmed opt-in. That's probably an exaggeration, but the next step to winning that iPad could merely be confirming the opt-in email notification (which is increasingly trivial due to email-ready smartphones).

      You also need to consider international marketers, who aren't subject to most of

  • I get so much dead tree junk mail that I'm surprised there aren't laws trying to stop it.

    • I get so much dead tree junk mail that I'm surprised there aren't laws trying to stop it.

      That stuff supports the postal system.

      Interestingly, in Canada, if you affix a sticker to your mailbox indicating you do not with to receive bulk mail, they're supposed to honour it. Unfortunately, they rarely do.

      • by green1 ( 322787 )

        I have a sticker on my mailbox that says "no flyers" they honour it some of the time, when they don't, I file an online complaint with Canada Post, that stops the junk mail for a couple of months, and then they start delivering it again.
        I had an argument with my letter carrier at one point, I caught them putting jumk mail in my mailbox, I asked if they would please stop doing that, they told me to get a sign, I pointed at the one already there, and then they claimed that they never put junk mail in mailboxe

        • by aclarke ( 307017 )
          Don't forget the crap they just throw onto your driveway that has nothing to do with Canada Post.
  • victory is ours

  • by TheSkepticalOptimist ( 898384 ) on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @04:20PM (#44311463)

    Strict as in Canada's Do Not Call list, which only means once every 30 days you get telemarketers calling you, and you ask to be removed for the next 30 days. Also Strict in the sense that you still get hounded by charities and politicians calling you because they are exempt. And strict as in the sense that it's useless because I now get telemarketing from randomly generated phone numbers from foreign countries.

    So yes, Canada implemented a useless regulation, again, yay.

    The solution to spam is a good email client connected to a great email server. Running your own email server does not count. Creating a law does not work.

    • So yes, Canada implemented a useless regulation, again, yay.

      Don't cheer yet. In fact, though the anti-spam law was passed in April, 2011, but hasn't yet come into effect, because the regulations haven't been finished, so in fact *nothing* has been implemented.

      According to the government web site [], "A specific date for coming into force of the law will be set in the coming months." This lets us cheer twice: we can cheer when the date of the useless regulations is announced, and again when that date arrives (if it has

  • Any bad companies sending spam will be off-shore and/or untraceable. The legitimate companies sending out emails that people subscribed to will be nailed for not following the exacting letter of the law. Just one more nail in the coffin of non mining businesses in Canada.

    A simple predictive test for how effective laws of this type are in Canada would be the 3-5 calls I get per week where I have won a trip, can lower my CC rates, or have a problem with my "Windows" that I must immediately fix. Since the DN
    • Possibly interesting side note.
      I was in a really bad mood, when I received one of those "You have won" calls. As I said I was in a bad mood, so I thought I would take it out on a telemarketer. So I stayed on the line, waiting for someone to yell at. No one came on the line, and after a few minutes they just dropped the call.
      Not sure how they make any money when if you don't hangup on them, they hangup on you.

      I am always unpleasant and abusive to telemarketers. I figure I am encouraging them to go look f
  • by Megane ( 129182 ) on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @05:09PM (#44311949) Homepage

    Your post advocates a

    ( ) technical (X) legislative ( ) market-based ( ) vigilante

    approach to fighting spam. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may have other flaws which used to vary from state to state before a bad federal law was passed.)

    ( ) Spammers can easily use it to harvest email addresses
    ( ) Mailing lists and other legitimate email uses would be affected
    (X) No one will be able to find the guy or collect the money
    ( ) It is defenseless against brute force attacks
    ( ) It will stop spam for two weeks and then we'll be stuck with it
    ( ) Users of email will not put up with it
    ( ) Microsoft will not put up with it
    ( ) The police will not put up with it
    (X) Requires too much cooperation from spammers
    ( ) Requires immediate total cooperation from everybody at once
    ( ) Many email users cannot afford to lose business or alienate potential employers
    ( ) Spammers don't care about invalid addresses in their lists
    ( ) Anyone could anonymously destroy anyone else's career or business

    Specifically, your plan fails to account for

    ( ) Laws expressly prohibiting it
    (X) Lack of centrally controlling authority for email
    (X) Open relays in foreign countries
    ( ) Ease of searching tiny alphanumeric address space of all email addresses
    (X) Asshats
    (X) Jurisdictional problems
    ( ) Unpopularity of weird new taxes
    ( ) Public reluctance to accept weird new forms of money
    ( ) Huge existing software investment in SMTP
    ( ) Susceptibility of protocols other than SMTP to attack
    ( ) Willingness of users to install OS patches received by email
    (X) Armies of worm riddled broadband-connected Windows boxes
    ( ) Eternal arms race involved in all filtering approaches
    (X) Extreme profitability of spam
    (X) Joe jobs and/or identity theft
    (X) Technically illiterate politicians
    ( ) Extreme stupidity on the part of people who do business with spammers
    (X) Dishonesty on the part of spammers themselves
    ( ) Bandwidth costs that are unaffected by client filtering
    ( ) Outlook

    and the following philosophical objections may also apply:

    (X) Ideas similar to yours are easy to come up with, yet none have ever
    been shown practical
    ( ) Any scheme based on opt-out is unacceptable
    ( ) SMTP headers should not be the subject of legislation
    ( ) Blacklists suck
    ( ) Whitelists suck
    ( ) We should be able to talk about Viagra without being censored
    ( ) Countermeasures should not involve wire fraud or credit card fraud
    ( ) Countermeasures should not involve sabotage of public networks
    ( ) Countermeasures must work if phased in gradually
    ( ) Sending email should be free
    ( ) Why should we have to trust you and your servers?
    ( ) Incompatiblity with open source or open source licenses
    (X) Feel-good measures do nothing to solve the problem
    ( ) Temporary/one-time email addresses are cumbersome
    ( ) I don't want the government reading my email
    ( ) Killing them that way is not slow and painful enough

    Furthermore, this is what I think about you:

    (X) Sorry dude, but I don't think it would work.
    ( ) This is a stupid idea, and you're a stupid person for suggesting it.
    ( ) Nice try, assh0le! I'm going to find out where you live and burn your
    house down!

  • Because you know, I could give a shit about spammers. It's the otherwise legitimate companies that drag their feet taking me off mailing lists I never signed up for, or make it an ordeal to find the unsubscribe information on their page or in the e-mail-- in the latter case, that shit sometimes doesn't even show up in the plaintext version.

    Christ on a crutch. Just today, I got an e-mail from OnLive because some bot or idiot used one of my addresses to sign up with. I went to their opt-out page, and among ot

  • ...Is the mantra of the Harper government. This bill can be seen in the same light: Get real tough (millions of $'s) to punish the few, while still leaving it open for other non-intentional or honest people to get taken to court. If I had a business, I would not like having to ask people to send them emails, I would rather have an "opt-out" system where an initial contact was made with an easy way to say, no thanks. A simple link or button would do, which is less effort than it takes now to opt-out from mos

10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.