When the U.S. CAN-Spam Act became law in 2004, it gave consumers the ability to opt-out of email that they consider spam. The act also provides restrictions for companies that send spam, as well as those whose products are advertised therein. The Federal Trade Commission has enforcement authority, and the Department of Justice can also exact penalties from violators.
Essentially, it changed the way a lot of email marketing companies do business in the U.S. According to the folks at ZeroSpam Security, those same companies may be about to experience another such paradigm shift. This time, however, the changes come thanks to Canadian lawmakers.
Bill C-28, passed late last year, appears to be more restrictive than its U.S. counterpart. For example, instead of requiring senders to provide consumers with an opt-out mechanism, the law requires firms sending commercial email in Canada to obtain the consumer's permission beforehand, with a few exceptions. Unsubscribe functions are also mandatory, as is clear identification of the sender and the subject of the email.
Significantly, once the sender obtains the recipient's permission, it is also the sender's responsibility to keep record of that permission because it will be required proof in the event of a complaint or litigation.
Violators will be subject to monetary penalties and could be blacklisted in Canada. Moreover, under C-28, consumers have standing to sue the companies that spam them without permission. Under the CAN-Spam Act, the government has to bring suit.
Just how will this law impact U.S. companies with a commercial email presence in Canada? I'm hoping ZeroSpam's COO, David Poellhuber can give me the details when we speak.