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Anti spam law is here. Are you ready? The government isn't

Wednesday, July 02, 2014   by: SooToday.com Staff

SooToday.com has received the following letter to the editor from Wishart Law Barristers Paul Cassan and Tim Harmar who explain the Canadian Anti Spam Law (CASL) and point out a rather glaring flaw in its implementation.

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CASL – It is here – Are you ready? …Neither are they!

Written July 2, 2014 (T+1 day)

It happened…

On July 2, 2014 at 11:58 AM I got my first unsolicited email. A scam asking for personal information that I clearly did not consent to nor request.

There was no indication of how I had given consent, no unsubscribe mechanism, no legitimate web URL or contact information. 

Some background…our firm has developed a significant focus on CASL and has taken great pains to ensure that our office and those of our clients are compliant.

We are terrified about the $10,000,000 administrative penalty per incident for non-compliance.

Clearly the sender of my email was not.

In fact I suspect that this sender is precisely the character that Mr. Harper’s team was targeting when they designed and implemented the current CASL legislation. (It would be interesting to understand the cost to businesses all over Canada to comply with this legislation. It is an interesting way to “stimulate the economy” while at the same time prolonging the life of Canada Post)

Clearly I had an obligation to report this offence and give the finely tuned and waiting enforcement monster something to chew on.

So, my colleague Tim Harmar and I went to the CRTC’s Spam Reporting Centre through the Government’s fightspam.gc.ca website to file our complaint.

We followed the web-based process to submit our complaint and were asked to forward, by email, the offending spam epistle and promptly did so.

We were really looking forward to the SWAT team emerging from their unseen yet omnipresent hiding spots to provide us with our reward for assisting them in stomping out this social ill that warrants $10,000,000 fines and piercing the corporate veil as if radioactive waste had leaked from my neighbour’s property and contaminated my well.

Imagine our surprise when my email immediately alerted me that my message was rejected… rejected!

Apparently the email address (complaintnumber@fightspam.gc.ca) DOES NOT EXIST!!

Ok, no problem, as responsible citizens we called the CRTC number advertised on the website and enjoyed about 30 minutes of fantastic music interrupted by a nice woman telling us that they were experiencing an unusually high volume of calls…

When we did speak to a live person, he advised that we needed to make the complaint through the website.

After we made him understand that we had done so and had been given an email address to send my spam to that did not exist, he put us on hold for a while.

Again, the music was fantastic.

When we resumed our conversation we were informed that the Spam Reporting Centre was “experiencing technical difficulties” and we should try again later.

Not wanting to donate another irretrievable half hour of our lives we asked for a number where we could reach the Anti-Spam Spec. Ops team directly.

Ummm…there isn’t one.

No phone number exists to call the anti-spam enforcement group directly but, we were assured they are looking into setting one up.

K, so no problem, we asked to leave our contact information so that we could get a call or an email from them when they ARE ready to receive our complaint.

That was a great idea, but they are not set up for that either…

So, are you CASL compliant?

Have you spent countless thousands of dollars and unknown hours attempting to invent a computer system to deal with all of your email addresses and manage your consents and unsubscribes?

No? Well don’t worry because neither the CRTC or Industry Canada are ready to enforce compliance let alone take complaints from good citizens like us.

Do not take me to suggest that they won’t be at some point.

And I bet they won’t announce when they do spring into action, but some poor email “newb” is going to get pinched, and potentially pinched hard when this beast awakes.

I strongly suspect that the enforcement team was truly where Mr. Hudak’s “million jobs” was rooted.

I believe that this beast, once it awakes, will be a fantastic example of government spending and massive job creation…but hey, if it works I won’t have to hit DELETE for that email I got this afternoon.

If you are not ready for CASL, we can help.

Tim Harmar and I have devoted many hours to presenting on CASL, on explaining its intricacies and trying to manoeuvre through the legislation’s inherent internal conflicts.

We would love to help you because we don’t want our clients to be this monster’s first lunch…

By Paul Cassan and Tim Harmar
Wishart Law Firm LLP

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