Backgrounder

December 4, 2013

Building Consumer Trust in the Online Marketplace

The Government of Canada today announced that Canada's anti-spam law (the Act) is coming into force. The new Electronic Commerce Protection Regulations were developed based on extensive public consultations. Together with the Act, they provide a strong legal foundation to protect consumers online while allowing Canadian businesses to prosper using modern digital technologies in legitimate ways.

As of July 1, 2014, consumers will have control over who can send them a commercial electronic message or business email. Even with the consumer's consent, companies will have to identify themselves in their emails and provide a way to unsubscribe from receiving further messages. Spammers that do not comply risk major financial penalties.

Canadians will also be able to report false or misleading online business claims. As well, accessing computer systems to collect personal information or to gather and share lists of email addresses will be a violation under the Act. The new regulations make it clear that the fundraising activities of Canadian charities, which operate on the generosity of Canadians, will be exempted from the Act.

Canadians will be able to report violations and file complaints on the Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation website.

On January 15, 2015, the sections of the Act related to the unsolicited installation of computer programs or software will come into force. As a result, Canadians will be empowered to decide who is allowed to put computer programs on their mobile phone, tablet or computer and what those programs are allowed to do.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the Competition Bureau and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada will jointly enforce the Act. They will share information with their global partners to track spammers outside of Canada.

The Government recognizes that companies need to be able to send business-related messages uninhibited by unnecessary regulation. For example, messages sent internally or to another business will be permitted. Email sent as part of a product recall, in response to a consumer inquiry or as a result of a referral may also be allowed.

The regulations are available on the Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation website. The website also provides information on how Canadian consumers can better protect themselves from spam and related online threats, together with information about the Act for businesses.

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