Feb 19, 2009

Canada to pass an anti-spam act

Canada's senate is currently working on an anti-spam act.
Last country of the G8 not to have their own anti-spam act, they just ran a second reading at the Canadian senate.

I personnaly loved the definition of spam made by senator Yoine Goldstein available in the transcript of the session:

"We all know what spam is. Although the Senate filters a tremendous number of spam messages, some nevertheless go through the filters. We have all been solicited to buy Viagra at bargain prices on the web or via email. I sometimes have the notion that I should email back to point out that we, as senators, do not need Viagra. We have all received a goodly number of plaintive emails, predominantly from Nigeria, but elsewhere as well, telling us that the sender is an orphan or the widow of an oil minister who died in unexplained circumstances. The emails speak of leaving a bank account in a secret place that contains many millions of dollars. They tell us our cooperation is required to transfer the money to a safe haven, like Canada. In exchange, we will receive 20 per cent to 40 per cent of these millions. Those few who are foolish enough to respond end up providing bank account information and various pieces of other personal information that allow the sender to raid the bank account, withdraw virtually all the money and then disappear.

While many of us might not consider spam to be a significant challenge, it imposes massive costs at the global level. Depending on which source one uses, somewhere between 75 per cent and 95 per cent of all email sent in 2007 was spam. That is up from 10 per cent in 2000."

The entire text of the act is available here.

Most important facts concerning this act are:
  • A commercial electronic message shall
    (a) clearly and accurately identify the person who is sending or authorized the sending of the message;
    (b) contain readily-accessible and accurate header and routing information; and
    (c) include readily-accessible and accurate information as to how the recipient of the message can easily contact the person who is sending or authorized the sending of the message.
  • The unsubscribe facility
    (a) shall be expressed and presented in a clear and conspicuous manner;
    (b) shall allow the recipient to respond to the sender using the same method of communication that was used to send the commercial electronic message;
    (c) shall be capable of receiving the unsubscribe request at all times during a period of at least 30 days after the message is sent; and
    (d) shall not require the recipient to pay a fee to the sender of the message or to any other person in order to use the unsubscribe facility.
  • No person shall send or authorize the sending of a commercial electronic message if the person knows or ought to know that the electronic address to which the message is sent was obtained
    (a) using address-harvesting software;
    (b) from a harvested-address list; or
    (c) using an automated means that generates possible electronic addresses by combining letters, numbers or symbols or a combination thereof. Impersonation of a trusted source
  • Every person who knows, or ought to know, that their trade, business, property, goods or services are being or will be advertised or promoted in a commercial electronic message sent contrary to section 8 or 11, and who receives or expects to receive an economic benefit from the sending of the message, shall take reasonable measures to prevent the sending of the message and to report any contravention to an appropriate law enforcement agency.
This act also authorize ISPs to block any incoming spam source.

As often in this case this law will apply for anyone sending from Canada or to Canadian persons (whatever the spam originating country is).

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