CASL’s computer software installation laws could shake up tech industry

Michael Fekete

May 22, 2014

Candice So, itbusiness.ca

[Extract]

With Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) set to come into force on July 1, many companies have been hard at work overhauling the ways they send commercial emails and messages to their customers.

Yet while people are taking CASL seriously, there’s another component to it that hasn’t drawn as much attention – and that’s CASL’s decrees on computer software installations, said Michael Fekete, a privacy and IT lawyer at Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt LLP in Toronto.

Speaking from a workshop on CASL on Thursday, Fekete said CASL’s computer software regulations will set ground rules on installing programs on other people’s devices.

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These computer software rules will apply to anyone who installs a computer program on another person’s computer system, as well as anyone who causes an electronic message to be sent from a computer system where he or she installed a computer program. A program is defined as any executable code, Fekete said.

Plus, it applies to not just desktops, but to mobile devices – in a world where more and more devices are coming online and becoming connected to each other, these are “very broad, prescriptive rules,” Fekete said.

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“This is a scary and interesting topic …When you look at how these rules have an impact on so many different types of software installations, that weren’t contemplated when the legislation was drafted, you go, well, what are we getting ourselves into?” Fekete said, adding the laws were out of step with modern software practices.

“[That was] before software became as ubiquitous as it is today, before just about every device that we touched was wirelessly connected, whether it be your automobile, or your smartphone, or your laptop, or all other types of similar products … Everything is capable of being updated remotely.”

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