For about a month now Canadians have been receiving a torrent of unsolicited emails from merchants, not-for-profits, public relations companies and the like asking if it’s ok to continue sending …er, unsolicited emails. It is all part of a move by the CRTC to crack down on spam. Under the new rules that went into effect at the beginning of this month, it is illegal to send emails to someone unless you have their consent. How the CRTC expects to enforce this law nobody knows. Commercial organizations will be allowed to continue to send e mails to people with whom they have an ongoing business relationship—something that is defined as having done business with the recipient in the last 2 years. Also if your email is posted on your website or some other public place, your consent to receive emails is implied. That’s great news for me because it means I will be able to receive without interruption news from my friends in Kenya and other exotic places telling me about their recent bereavement and asking if I can assist them with large money transfers. The CRTC claims it will enforce the new anti spam regulation across North America and around the world. Good luck. Big companies with sophisticated computer systems like Amamzon and Best Buyh will re relatively unscathed by the rules, But as the New York Times pointed out recently the new anti-spam regulations is most likely to inconvenience mom-and-pop organizations disproportionately. The organizers of a charity bike race tried to reach their 1200 name mailing list for permission and only 147 people responded. Fines are staggering for violations—up to a million dollars for individuals and 10 million for companies. These draconian sanctions are clearly a case of a solution looking for a problem—or in this case a non-solution since there is no way, despite the CRTC sabre-rattling, that  foreign spam will be weeded out. So why is the government embarrassing itself by passing an unenforceable set of rules? Here’s a possible answer—Canada Post says it is so broke that it is phasing out home delivery—could the new spam law be a way of driving advertisers back to direct mail? Whatever the case somebody needs to explain the distinction between unwanted emails and junk mail that comes through the mail slot.

Written by: John Best

Providing a fresh perspective for Hamilton and Burlington

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