Anti-spam law targets software starting January

Michael Fekete

Oct 22, 2014

Michael Oliveira, The Canadian Press

(Recap)

Canada's controversial anti-spam law has already forced businesses to change how they communicate with consumers by email. Early next year, the law will also start targeting software makers.

Starting on Jan. 15, 2015, companies will have to get consent before installing a program on a person's computer if the software has the ability to covertly send electronic messages or has other functionality outlined in the legislation.

While the law has been framed as an attack on the creators of malware and spyware, it also affects legitimate software companies, which face fines of up to $10 million for noncompliance.

...

Michael Fekete, a lawyer with the Toronto-based Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt law firm, says the law is overreaching and should've focused specifically on malware and spyware.

He says the law could lead to technology companies deciding to keep their products from the Canadian market.

"There's no other law in the world that I'm aware of that comes close to regulating computer program installations as broadly," Fekete says. He also says he's concerned that the law appears to cover not only computers but mobile devices and virtually any other device that works with software code.

"The rules apply to virtually any computer program, even computer programs embedded on devices that do not have a user interface. And so if you look at the ubiquity of computer programs in not just consumer devices but with just about any device that can be wirelessly connected these days, we're introducing to Canada this unique set of rules that don't exist anywhere else and cover the broadest possible scope of computer programs," Fekete says.

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