Technology and Gadgets

Canada’s spam law might not make a massive dent in spam – but it’s still great.

The new Canadian anti-spam law may not mean a whole lot less spam for you, but you should still be happy about it.

A new anti-spam law will take effect on July 1 that regulates commercial emails sent to or from Canadians. It’s one of the strongest such laws in the world, with penalties up to $1†million for an individual violator and up to $10†million for companies.

The law will make it illegal to send commercial emails without getting permission first, and this will apply to social network and text messages as well. And with those stiff penalties the law should take a huge dent out of the amount of spam Canadians receive, right?

Well, maybe not. Security and spam experts say only 1.3% of the world’s spam is sent from Canada. So even if the law significantly reduces that, we will still continue to get plenty of spam from people all over the world (primarily China, USA, South Korea and Taiwan).

Nonetheless, it’s easy to get over the disappointment of finding out that we won’t wake up to spam-free mailboxes on July 2 when you take a closer look at the law.

The government had to move now because while the overall amount of spam from Canada is still relatively low, it is growing. In 2013 Canada for the first time made the top 20 list of the world’s worst spamming countries, coming in at #14. So the new law and its stiff penalties should stop and ultimately reverse that trend.

One of the most significant aspects of the law (that is receiving strangely little attention) addresses viruses and malware. Under the new law it will be illegal for anyone in Canada to install computer software on a Canadian computer without the consent of the computer’s owner. This means anyone who installs a virus, bot or any other unauthorized program on a Canadian’s computer has broken the law, regardless of what the program does. And for a country with a relatively small population, Canada is one of the world’s top 10 generators of malicious software, cranking out 3.5% of the worlds malicious bots.

Then there’s the problem of phishing, or sending emails designed to look like they come from businesses, financial institutions or government agencies that try to collect personal information like login information or credit card numbers. The new law also makes that illegal.

There is no question that the new law places significant responsibilities on Canadian companies, and a huge lobbying campaign has gone on at some length about that burden, But while it remains to be seen just how much of a burden these new rules will be, what is clear is that this much-needed legislation will take a strong first swing at some very serious issues.

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