New anti-spam legislation worrying business owners, community groups

New anti-spam legislation, which prevents businesses from sending commercial electronic messages — emails, texts or even social media messages — to Canadians without their consent, is slated to go into effect across the country on July 1.

If your inbox has recently been flooded with messages from local businesses and community groups, musical acts or sports teams — you are not alone.

New anti-spam legislation which prevents businesses from sending commercial electronic messages to Canadians without their consent is slated to go into effect on July 1. That includes emails, texts or even social media messages. 

With only one week until the deadline, community groups and businesses in Edmonton are scrambling for subscribers’ approval in order to continue messaging.

After Canada Day, any group found in violation of the new law may face massive fines, with penalties up to $1 million for an individual violator and up to $10 million for a company that violates the legislation.   

Fines aside, the new law has some  worried about reaching their audience.    

Instead of spending time on the rink, soccer field or in a local community hall, some say Edmonton volunteers will likely be spending more time online to ensure future communications meet the new standards.

“If a community league wants to sell tickets to an event, soccer registration, selling their memberships, fundraising for a new playground, fundraising for a new hockey rink -- all of those things have to be in accordance with this new law,” said Amanda Henry with the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues.

Henry said it will be difficult to get people to give permission to receive the messages ahead of time.

Some small business owners are also upset, saying the new law could affect their bottom line. Store owner Robyn Noel said e-mail and social media are the best ways to connect with customers.

“I feel like we're going much more in that direction as many businesses are, but it's becoming a huge part of our advertising.”

The only groups exempt from the new law are fundraising charities.

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