By Ken Fox
Today I woke to a world without spam, and so far the world looks very much like it did in the heady spam-filled days of pre-July 2014. The sun rose (having no alternative), the sidewalks still supported my weight, and construction has still not started on the Capital Pointe Condos (five years and counting since my favourite downtown pub was knocked down to be replaced by nothing). My key-fob activated as usual to get me into the courthouse, and my door key served its usual purpose – so I am happy to say the library is open today.
I also received a lot of spam. Reviewing my mailbox for the first time since June 27, I noticed many of the typical mass mail-outs had arrived. How many of these are actually spam? Likely all of them, according to the broad definition of “commercial electronic message” in the act.
This is partly my own doing. In the past couple of weeks, like everyone else, I have received many emails from various parties seeking consent to continue sending me messages. I gave my approval to a handful of valued information sources and denied consent to one or two unvalued ones. But for the most part, I just deleted the requests, content to allow the electrons to fend for themselves. So far, they seem to have interpreted my non-responses as implied consent.
Are the senders of these messages living dangerously? Is it only a matter of time before enforcement kicks in with fines and injunctions? Will this new legislation create a spam-free world? Will it overstep its purpose and make it difficult to send legitimate messages? I’m no expert, but I doubt if anyone knows the answers to these questions.
I guess I don’t really have much of a stake in this game. I’m sure that any information that is really valuable will still find its way through the rigors of request and permission to its intended recipient, even if in extreme situations the recipient needs to actively seek out said information. And I wouldn’t mind if down the road there are a few less messages to delete from my Inbox. In fact I’ve already compensated for a few hundred less taps at the delete key by writing this superfluous blog post.
No, I haven’t read the legislation, epoch-making as it is. I did enjoy some of David Canton’s posts on www.slaw.ca. In a recent one he described the legislation as “a sledgehammer to kill a fly.” If you want a detailed summary and critique, I recommend going through some of his many posts on the matter. If Canton is correct, then despite the lighthearted views expressed here, there are legitimate reasons to be concerned. But for a more sympathetic assessment of the new legislation, visit Michael Geist’s blog and search for CASL.
Meanwhile, note that this statute we have been calling (with its regs) “CASL” (Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation) has not been given a short title. For a chuckle, check out its citing info on CanLII.