Anti-spam legislation puts small businesses on edge

Canada's new anti-spam legislation is designed to prevent companies from overflowing email inboxes, but some local businesses are worried about being forced to pay the price.
The manager at Fred's Records, a locally owned record shop in downtown St. John's, says stores like his will be losing customers because of Canada's new anti-spam legislation. (CBC)

Canada's new anti-spam legislation is designed to prevent companies from overflowing email inboxes, but some local businesses are worried about being forced to pay the price.

The new law prevents businesses from sending commercial messages, via email, text or social media, to Canadians without their consent.

Gabriel Piller, manager of Fred's Records in St. John's, said this new law will mainly do harm to smaller companies like his.

"We're doubling the amount of work we've had to do, essentially, and that's quite literally just contacting them again and saying we're making sure, do you actively want to be contacted by us as a store, if so go here and follow these steps," said Piller.

"This does certainly put a damper on our direct email marketing campaigns and we probably will lose some customers."

The legislation takes effect as of July 1.

The law is one of the toughest of its kind across the globe, with penalties up to $1 million for an individual violator and up to $10 million for a company — a cost Piller said his businesses, and other businesses like his, can't afford.
Gabriel Piller, manager at Fred's Records, says Canada's new anti-spam legislation will hit small businesses and possibly cause a loss of customers. (CBC)

Mandy Woodland, a privacy and technology lawyer in St. John's, said businesses like Fred's Records are the least of people's worries when it comes to spamming.

She added that while they may be the smallest concern, they're likely the ones who have to most to lose.

"The challenge with this legislation is, it's not clear that it's going to serve the purpose it was intended for and it's becoming a huge hassle for businesses to comply, most of whom weren't the subject of the type of spam that they [the federal government] were trying to prevent," said Woodland.

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