CASL is indefensible

Barry Sookman has an excellent blog post that strongly refutes the weak defense of Canada’s Anti-Spam Law that has been put forward as a desperate response to an outpouring of criticism of the “ludicrous regulatory overkill.”

For 8 years, I have been writing about the problem of legislation dealing with our right to be rude:

In a democratic society, I think you have the right to be stupid, you have the right to be rude and we should try to teach telephone etiquette, not legislate it.

A week later, still in May 2006, I wrote more directly about the hidden cost of spam, saying “I think that a democracy gives you the right to be merely offensive and annoying – otherwise, my brother would say that I should have been put behind bars years ago.”

In 2008, I warned “Worst case will see us get it wrong and introduce costs on legitimate businesses while doing nothing to stem the flow of the real garbage filling our inboxes.”

In 2010, I wrote, “the bill would be better titled the Electronic Commerce Restrictions Act: it discourages many efficiencies that should be available to businesses of all sizes in reaching out to new customers.”

As CASL was proceeding a year and a half ago, I cautioned, “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.” At the end of the day, this translates into higher costs for consumers.

As Barry Sookman concluded in his post:

The Government should promptly suspend CASL’s operation until a Parliamentary Committee or special committee can review it and make recommendations on whether to kill it permanently or how to fix it. The Government could instead refer it to the Supreme Court of Canada for an opinion on CASL’s constitutionality. Either way, Canadians of all stripes would be put out of the collective misery of dealing with CASL.

1 thought on “CASL is indefensible”

  1. Not surprisingly, I still receive plenty of newsletters that I didn’t give express consent to contact me. All from American companies that are likely completely oblivious to this new law.

    The CRTC likes to talk big about enforcing this law on foreign companies, but is the US going to enforce a law that is likely to be protected by the First Amendment on the grounds of email being commercial free speech?


    CASL is a gift. A gift to American companies who operate in Canada.

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