[Sign the CAUCE online petition to support Canada's antispam bill C-27

Canadian Business magazine ran a surprisingly ill-informed editorial opposing bill C-27. CAUCE wrote them in response:

We were surprised to see last week's editorial opposing bill C-27, the Electronic Commerce Protection Act.  It makes the odd argument that Canadian businesses will be crippled if they can't engage in the noxious practices this act will proscribe. In reality, most Canadian businesses already do everything the bill requires, and its primary effect will be to make the relatively few bad actors behave as the responsible majority do.

Section 6(1), which proscribes unsolicited e-mailed advertisements, cuts to the heart of the spam problem.  A flood of solicitations one neither expects nor wants is the very definition of spam.  Opt-in consent is not burdensome, nor will it affect responsible marketers, who use opt-in now, and whose businesses are not suffering for it. The Canadian Marketing Association has endorsed this principle for over ten years.

Another section requires consent before a business installs software on your computers. One of the biggest security risks on the Internet today is malicious software that installs itself and does things that the user doesn't expect or want, such as eavesdrop on other communications and copy personal information to third parties The act simply requires that the user is informed in advance what the program will do. Is this a bad thing? Responsible organizations already do this. Do we not require telephone call centers to warn you that they will be recording the call? This is no different.

The second version of the act had poor wording requiring consent for "every" program. We expect this to change to simply require that users be informed in general terms what the software they download will do. This is already best practise throughout the industry, and does not affect the routine operation of multimedia web sites using Flash or Java applets.

This bill brings Canadian law in line with that in the European Union, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries, and crucially enables cross-border prosecution of international spammers by harmonizing the law.

It's time we made the practices that responsible businesses use today enforceable.

John Levine, President, CAUCE North America and Senior Advisor to
  the Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group (MAAWG)
Chris Lewis, Nortel and Senior Advisor to MAAWG, Ottawa
Michael Parker, Montreal
Matthew Sergeant, Symantec, Toronto
Matthew Vernhout, EmailKarma.net, Toronto

The signers are all board members of CAUCE North America, the Coalition Against Unsolicited Email, the continent's oldest and largest grassroots anti-spam organization. http://www.cauce.org