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Canada Dashboard Digest | Notes from the IAPP Canada Managing Director, August 7, 2015 Related reading: FTC's Chopra: 'Enforcing the law should mean something'

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It’s been a year since Canada’s anti-spam legislation came into force. Has it changed your life? Do you feel that the privacy of your in-box is better respected now?

Personally, I think it has actually cut down the amount of unwanted email I receive to my @nnovation.com account. That’s because that account is clearly related to my work as a lawyer in Canada. But, my @iapp.org account is associated with my work with the IAPP and email marketers assume that the account is American. As a result, I receive roughly 10 times more spam to my @iapp address as compared to my @nnovation one. 

So, if email marketers know that your account is Canadian, I suspect that you too are receiving less spam these days.

One of the curious things about our anti-spam legislation is that it contains administrative monetary penalties—pretty hefty ones I might add. As a policy choice, I do find it a little curious that fines are used to protect the privacy of our inbox, yet privacy violations of our medical or financial information seem to have far lesser consequences.

In any event, we have been working at trying to learn more about why the CRTC in particular has issued fines to a small handful of organizations this past year. We’d like to know more about the severity of the breaches and what exactly the email marketers did wrong to endure this type of penalty. So far, our request for greater transparency in reporting on these types of privacy violations has not resulted in anything meaningful. It reminds me of the early days under PIPEDA when some folks, like Michael Geist and others, pushed for greater transparency from our privacy commissioners. We've come pretty far on that front, and I think continuing to increase the findings available to industry makes a big difference in promoting and clarifying the needs for compliance. 

I hope the CRTC changes its approach soon and starts releasing more meaningful decisions regarding their enforcement of CASL. After all, there are important lessons to be learned from these enforcement actions … lessons that will remain hidden until the process is opened up.

What are your views on CASL so far? I've asked whether it has affected your inboxes, but what about your organizations' practices? Are the rules of the road now clear?

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