What U.S. Businesses And Others Need To Know About The New Canadian Anti-Spam Law

Hodgson Russ LLP

A new Canadian law taking effect on July 1, 2014, will impact businesses -- whether located in Canada, the United States, or elsewhere -- that send commercial electronic messages to computers located in Canada or that install computer programs on devices in Canada. The wide-ranging law covers, for example, a U.S. business that sends an e-mail to a Canadian customer or provides a mobile app to be downloaded by a Canadian customer. A Government of Canada website summarizes the new provisions as follows:

When the new law is in effect, it will generally prohibit:

• Sending commercial electronic messages without the recipient’s consent, including sending messages to e-mail addresses and social networking accounts and sending text messages to cell phones

• Altering transmission data in an electronic message that results in the message being delivered to a different destination without express consent

• Installing computer programs without the express consent of the owner of the computer system or the owner’s agent, such as an authorized employee (this provision is effective January 15, 2015)

• Using false or misleading representations online in the promotion of products or services

• Collecting personal information through accessing a computer system in violation of federal law (e.g., the Criminal Code of Canada)

• Collecting electronic addresses by the use of computer programs, or using such addresses without permission (known as address harvesting)

The law will also allow individuals and organizations who are affected by an act or omission that is in contravention of the law to bring a private right of action in court against individuals and organizations whom they allege have violated the law.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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