New anti-spam law 'hassle' for small business owners in N.B.

New federal legislation designed to protect internet users from spam take effect tomorrow, but the new rules will also impact some local businesses.

Some small business owners in New Brunswick are not happy about the new federal legislation limiting internet spam, which takes effect on July 1.

The law is designed to protect Canadian internet users from identity theft, phishing scams, spyware and unsolicited advertisements.

But Terry Avery, the owner of the Carman Creek Golf Course in Fredericton, says under the new law, any email addresses customers gave him are now useless.

"That's the only way we get emails. We don't go buying lists or anything like that," he said.

"They've already voluntarily given us their email, but now we have to do it all over again."

Avery says it's a hassle to him and to the thousands of people who have subscribed to his business.

"What we'll have to do is send out an email and have people re-opt in. These are the same people that opted in to begin with," he said.

Many businesses unprepared

Beginning Canada Day, businesses that send texts, emails, instant messages, Facebook messages, or any other type of electronic commercial message, will have to meet several requirements.

Every electronic message will have to include the full name of the sender, their mailing address, website, phone number and the ability to unsubscribe — which the company must act on within 10 days.

Those who don't comply with the legislation risk hefty fines of up to $1 million for individuals and up to $10 million for businesses.

A spokeswoman for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business has said most small business owners aren't ready for the new law, which will restrict how they communicate electronically with clients and prospects.

Although there were months of consultation by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission before it published regulations in 2012 and the agency has provided extensive online documents about how they may be interpreted, the CFIB is working with the CRTC to provide simplified explanations appropriate to smaller businesses, vice-president Corinne Pohlmann said.

Fredericton-area resident Amy Ferguson says she'll be happy if the changes mean fewer annoying advertisements trying to sell her items or services she does not want.

"The spam never pertains to anything I'm interested in," said the 39-year-old. "I get a lot of online dating for seniors," she said.

In January, the new laws will expand further, making it illegal to have software installed on a computer without express consent.