7 years of failed anti-spam legislation

Last Thursday, I saw the CRTC mark the 7th anniversary of Canada’s anti-spam legislation (CASL) coming into force with a tweet:

I replied, noting that 7 years ago, I wrote: “CASL is indefensible”, in which I observed that the root of CASL’s problems were that “we strayed too far from trying to target fraud. In doing so, Canada is going to cause harm to the adoption of digital technologies and electronic commerce.”

The main problem with unwanted electronic messages (emails and texts) and calls is fraud: calls and messages that purport to be from someone or some company other than the real caller; or, misrepresenting the goods or services or purpose of the call; or, those continuing to call after being asked to stop.

Those are the communications that we should have been focusing on trying to stop. But those seem to be precisely the ones that are still getting through.

Instead, as predicted, we made life more difficult for legitimate businesses, and that translates into higher costs for Canadians. In December 2017, a Parliamentary Committee report repeatedly recognized the “unintended cost of compliance” in making recommendations for changes to the legislation. Those are unintended costs for Canadian businesses, which ultimately are borne by consumers.

For seven years, the legislative over-reach of CASL has impaired the efficient use of electronic commerce by Canadian businesses and failed to protect Canadians from malicious online threats.

It’s an anniversary that I’m not celebrating.

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