Spam Task Force Report - CIPPIC News Release

NEWS RELEASE: May 17, 2005, Ottawa, ON


The federal government's Spam Task Force today issued its report and recommendations on what Canada should be doing to stem the tide of unsolicited e-mail, known as "spam".

The Task Force made recommendations for new anti-spam legislation with meaningful penalties, new powers for consumers to sue spammers, more resources to government agencies tasked with fighting spam, industry self-regulation, and greater international cooperation to track down and stop those responsible for the floods of unwanted messages clogging Canadians' e-mail inboxes.

"The measures called for by this Task Force are long overdue", said Philippa Lawson, Director of the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) at the University of Ottawa. "Canada has been sitting by while other countries take action against spam, yet we want to be an international leader in electronic commerce. Spam may be a difficult problem to solve, but that doesn't mean that we should refrain from taking legislative and other action"

The Task Force, made up of industry, government and consumer representatives, has been studying the problem for one year. It determined that while Canada has laws that prohibit specific aspects of spam (such as misleading advertising and fraud), these laws are insufficient to achieve the overall goal of deterring spammers in Canada. The group concluded that a specific anti-spam law is needed, prohibiting e-mail marketers from sending messages to consumers without consent, and making the businesses whose products or services are being promoted by way of spam, also responsible.

"We hope that the Canadian government acts on this report, swiftly and decisively", said Lawson. "Spam is no longer a mere nuisance for e-mail users; it is threatening the viability of e-mail as a reliable means of communication for everyone."

Also recommended were industry and consumer best practices to stifle spam. The Task Force has launched a public awareness campaign: the website contains tips for e-mail users on how to limit the amount of spam they receive.

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Contact: Philippa Lawson