Canada's new anti-spam law

August 24, 2011 - Tags: Regulations

Istock 000002608363xsmallThis guest blog post is provided by the Office of Consumer Affairs, which promotes the interests and protection of Canadian consumers.

Canada's new anti-spam legislation will help to protect Canadians while ensuring that businesses can continue to compete in the global marketplace. It aims to increase consumer confidence in electronic commerce by protecting Canadian consumers and businesses from unwanted spam and related threats. Passed December 2010, this new law will enter into force following a Governor in Council order.

On July 9, 2011, regulations pursuant to Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation were pre-published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, for a 60-day consultation period. On June 30, 2011, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) called for comments on its proposed regulations under the Act.

Who needs to know about this law?

Anyone who:

  • Makes use of commercial electronic messages
  • Is involved with the alteration of transmission data
  • Produces or installs computer programs

What is covered under the law?

When the new law is in force, it will prohibit the:

  • Sending of commercial electronic messages without the recipient's consent (permission), including messages to e-mail addresses and social networking accounts, and text messages sent to a cell phone
  • Alteration of transmission data in an electronic message which results in the message being delivered to a different destination without express consent
  • Installation of computer programs without the express consent of the owner of the computer system or its agent, such as an authorized employee
  • Use of false or misleading representations online in the promotion of products or services
  • Collection of personal information through accessing a computer system in violation of federal law (e.g. the Criminal Code of Canada)
  • Collection of electronic addresses by the use of computer programs or the use of such addresses, without permission (address harvesting)

What does it mean for you?

Businesses and organizations need to get ready for the new law. Visit to find out how to comment on the draft regulations and learn more about Canada's new anti-spam law.


What are the acceptable forms of consent under this law? Is verbal consent considered permission?

By Scott on September 7, 2011

Hi Scott,

What are the acceptable forms of consent under this law?

The legislation stipulates that express consent is required except in certain defined circumstances where consent is implied. These circumstances are limited to the sending of commercial electronic messages (CEMs) where the sender and the recipient in an “existing business relationships” or an “existing non-business relationship” as defined in the Act. Also, the legislation provides that consent is implied with respect to the sending of CEMs for the first 3 years of the legislation or until consent is withdrawn, whichever is earlier.

Is verbal consent considered permission?

As part of its draft regulations, the CRTC proposed for public comment that consent cannot be requested orally but must done ‘in writing’. The CRTC is currently examining this proposed requirement in light of the comments received prior to finalizing the regulations. Regardless of the outcome, the legislation stipulates that the person who alleges that they have the necessary consent has the onus of proving such consent.

By Canada Business on October 12, 2011

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