The Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce is urging businesses to start preparing for new anti-spam legislation.

Chamber president and CEO Debbi Nicholson said it's time businesses become familiar with the new laws that come into effect in three months. Under the new rules, businesses must obtain consent from customers to send them emails, in an attempt to reduce unwanted email.

“That's where you get your ‘using a sledgehammer to kill an ant’ sort of thing,” she said.

Nevertheless, Nicholson said she would like to see more businesses getting ready now.

“I think a lot of business owners aren't aware that the legislation is coming down. Apparently the government is supposed to be doing a big marketing campaign to let businesses know that they have to be prepared for this, but we're moving into April.”

The chamber has engaged a lawyer to speak on the issue on June 12. The new law will be in force on July 1.

The new rules will change how businesses interact with customers, one observer noted.

“It's pretty significant … the law really does re-shape in many ways the way businesses will communicate with Canadians,” said Michael Geist, an academic at the University of Ottawa who studies internet and e-commerce law.

He said businesses can no longer be careless about where they get addresses or personal information, and they have to make sure they can prove they have permission.

Penalties for infractions come in the form of fines — in some cases, up to $10 million can be levied against a company for breaking the new rules.