[Sign the CAUCE online petition to support Canada's antispam bill C-27
Canada's anti-spam bill, C-27 being considered today in a clause-by-clause reading in front of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science & Technology is under attack by groups and individuals who want to strip
out key provisions of the law, and make it opt-out, along the lines of the
ineffective American CANSPAM act.
On April 24, 2009, the Conservative government tabled a bill
called the Electronic Commerce Protection Act in the Canadian House of Commons.
The protocol in Canada is a bill is given two readings, followed by votes, and if it passes, is referred to a committee for community input, in this case the Standing Committee on Industry, Science & Technology. The committee began to discuss the bill in June, 2009.
CAUCE sent two board members, both marketers, to address the committee:
My colleague Matthew Vernhout and I (Dennis Dayman) both work for large international
"email service providers", (myself for Eloqua, and Matthew at ThinData, Canada's largest ESP, both of these companies were founded and continue to operate in Toronto. Our companies provide sending infrastructure for marketing email, sending on behalf of such companies as Fidelity, Air Canada, American Express, and literally hundreds of small and medium-sized companies and we are very much in favour of this law.
Dennis Dayman went on to note:
"By now, you have received letters support bill C-27 from others in our community, like Matthew Blumberg, the CEO of Return Path Inc.
Return Path certifies commercial marketing email into and for such places as Hotmail, Yahoo!, Telus, Nortel, and Bell Canada's Sympatico, and literally a hundred other large and medium sized ISPs.
It is our understanding that some have been spreading what we in the Internet community call F.U.D.: — fear, uncertainty and doubt — about this bill. We cannot understand why anyone is doing so, perhaps it is an adversarial relationship with some of the enforcement agencies in this country; perhaps it is to create a hostile business environment for competitors. Some perhaps, benefit financially from providing connectivity to bad actors.
What we do know is that this bill has a long tail, it directly intersects with American and Canadian marketers and consumers, and we are here to assure you that from the standpoint of legitimate international and Canadian-based marketing companies, the bill is well-crafted. We have no worries about our clients' email or our professional activities."
The Canadian Marketing Association applauded the bill:
"This is important news for legitimate marketers and good news for consumers," said the CMA's president and CEO, John Gustavson, in a statement. "Through rigorous enforcement and the backing of the federal government, we will now have a law that will help combat what has been an ongoing problem for legitimate companies that use the Internet to grow their business" — Direct Magazine, April 28, 2009
The CMA was also very supportive of the bill when they presented to committee
But all is not well in Ottawa. The Committee recently began its work again after the summer recess, and we have seen a series of articles attacking the bill.
Professor Michael Geist blogged last week that the leadership of the Canadian Marketing Association has reversed their stance at the last minute, and is asking their members to write in to the members of parliament to indicate their opposition.
CBC reported: The current draft of Bill C-27 will require a marketer to obtain a consumer's consent, whether implied or explicit, before sending them an email. The CMA says this clause will limit companies' ability to prospect for new customers or grow their businesses.
In Canadian Business magazine, a publication owned by Rogers, Barry Sookman of the law firm McCarthy Tétrault came out against, citing hindrances to conducting business.
CAUCE responded to this short-sighted, wrong-headed editorial.
CAUCE's Matt Sergeant appeared on IT Business to present the CAUCE stance.
Michael Geist also blogged about industry consortiums attempting to gut the bill: The Copyright Lobby's Secret Pressure On the Anti-Spam Bill
This past weekend, James Gannon, a new associate at the McCarthy Tétrault, also lambasted the bill, and criticized Geist's personal stance
CANWEST reported "Liberals join move to water down anti-spam law"
However, Liberal Consumer Affairs Critic Dan McTeague came out strongly in favour:
(McTeague) told CBCNews he doesn't know what the position of his party is, but that he personally supports the Conservative bill, "warts and all." "The intention is to really send a message that Canada can no longer be a haven for spam. It is extremely debilitating to business," he said. "It's legislation that is long overdue."
So, after all this, where does CAUCE stand?
The bill is a moving target. Last week, we were able to provide input to the drafters of the Bill as well as commentary from top anti-spyware representatives from Microsoft, Google and HP, and some adjustments were made for the draft that will be presented today for the clause-by-clause reading.
But amendments will be made. The Liberals and Bloc Quebecois MPs have a position of power, due to the minority government in Ottawa, the Conservatives have indicated they intent to hold fast. We will see what comes out of committee, and where the bill lies after the third and final vote in the house, but thus far, we like what we see for the most part, and can live with the rest.
Then, it is on to Senate, where all of this (two readings, debate, committee, third reading and votes) all takes place again.
We have our fingers crossed that we will have an anti-spam law that actually has some teeth, by the end of the year. Stay tuned.
UPDATE: We have written a letter to the Prime Minister, Committee Members, and Party leaders in support of bill C-27.