Canada’s Anti-Spam Law – Topical Edge

The following quotation is taken verbatim from the online version of the law, with the heading info as follows…

“An Act to promote the efficiency and adaptability of the Canadian economy by regulating certain activities that discourage reliance on electronic means of carrying out commercial activities, and to amend the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission Act, the Competition Act, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act and the Telecommunications Act

S.C. 2010, c. 23

Assented to 2010-12-15

An Act to promote the efficiency and adaptability of the Canadian economy by regulating certain activities that discourage reliance on electronic means of carrying out commercial activities, and to amend the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission Act, the Competition Act, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act and the Telecommunications Act

Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:

INTERPRETATION”

Definitions

  • 1. (1) The following definitions apply in this Act.

“commercial activity”

 “commercial activity” means any particular transaction, act or conduct or any regular course of conduct that is of a commercial character, whether or not the person who carries it out does so in the expectation of profit, other than any transaction, act or conduct that is carried out for the purposes of law enforcement, public safety, the protection of Canada, the conduct of international affairs or the defence of Canada.

The above is the very first substantive section of this law, and I’ve got to say it presents some immediate challenges to my “business plans”. In the immediate term, my focus is on ‘pre-registering’ an initial group of people to make use of a website. It’s one of those situations where it’s cheaper and more effective to undertake something ‘on spec’ (on speculation that someone will buy-in). Rather than marketing to people, it’s a situation whereby the hope is… ‘if you build it, they will come’.

To be sure, in the future, I (might) hope this effort will result in some ‘advertising revenue’ on the promoted website(s). Ideally, this would include ads placed directly with us/we/me, and ads served by a well-known internet company whose name rhymes with noodle. Yet, I’ve got to wonder if this means that any attempt of mine to draw attention to this website, would constitute “commercial activity”, even if it’s done ‘on spec’? I guess I’ll have to suppose so, I guess, even though I doubt any of this will pay-off adequately, for the foreseeable future, since it’s been more of a labour of love, than like any commercial activity I might otherwise undertake.

 

Now consider this concern of mine, while keeping in mind the actual name of the law. Supposedly, I am not supposed to be discouraged to conduct business by electronic means – but this CASL reads like a bunch of discouragement, if ever I’ve read any.

Thankfully, from my perspective, there is also the offer of several loopholes, including “the purposes of law enforcement, public safety, the protection of Canada, the conduct of international affairs or the defence of Canada”. In truth, I always knew that these topics would be germane to what I wanted to do with various incarnations of online presence – whether for commercial interests or otherwise – but reading this law has spelled things out, very, very clearly; and has caused me to revisit certain written elements of this whole project, such that “the purposes of law enforcement, public safety, the protection of Canada, the conduct of international affairs or the defence of Canada” are all going to feature very heavily as points of interest and topics of discussion, not to mention as a matter of explicit intent, and indeed, in service of CASL.

To be sure, this is a matter of both sincerity and of technique – much the same as when I obey the speed limit.

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