Canadian Task Force on Spam Presents Final Report

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On May 17 the Canadian government’s Task Force on Spam presented its final report titled “Stopping Spam: Creating a Stronger, Safer Internet.”
Our own One Degree contributor Amanda Maltby is on that Task Force.
Some findings presented in the report (surprise, surprise):
* Spam is more than a nuisance. It is increasingly being used to carry viruses and worms, to commit fraud, to steal personal information, and to invade privacy. Not only do these activities drive up the costs for both consumers and businesses, but they also threaten the integrity of the Internet as a platform for communications and commerce.
* To effectively combat spam, government, industry, business and consumers must continue to work together, using a variety of instruments – from clear laws with strong penalties and vigorous enforcement, to sound business practices, consumer awareness, public education and international cooperation.

“We need to rid the Internet of the scourge of spam if Canada is going to be able to reap the full benefit of a strong e-economy. These recommendations merit strong consideration.” Minister of Industry David Emerson.

Some of the report’s suggestions include:
* A call for legislation and enforcement to combat spam
* The need to create an area within the government to ensure coordination of activity regarding spam and other similar issues like spyware
* Voluntary adoption of best practices for Internet Service Providers (ISPs), network operators and email marketers
* Requiring email marketers to obtain “informed consent” (permission) from recipients to receive emails and ensure there is a functional mechanism for opting-out of further e-mails
Now let’s see what happens and, more important, when anything happens.
Personally I am surprised it has taken this long for a government task force to suggest we synchronize with the United States’ CAN-SPAM laws and industry best practices that require permission when using email as a marketing tool. Unfortunately the Canadian Privacy Act (PIPEDA) failed to include this and, instead, focused only on getting permission to collect and use “personally identifiable” information. Let’s see when permission becomes the law in Canada.
Your thoughts on this report are appreciated. Obviously this is long overdue. How long do you think it will take to get any action on the recommendations and make this stuff law? Do you agree with the recommendations? Post a comment or email me at stefan@onedegree.ca.

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