Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) is possibly the strictest anti-spam law in the world. Yet, it is unclear what, if anything, the law has accomplished. With almost a full decade between its conception and implementation, it exemplifies the challenges in attempting to legislate on technology issues that evolve so quickly, because by the time CASL was in effect, it was arguably mostly irrelevant. It’s now hard to look critically at the Canadian privacy landscape and not wonder why email addresses are protected so much more than any other type of personal information.
However, love it or hate it, CASL is here to stay. For those who lament the challenges and risks posed by the law, the good news is that Parliament is required to review the law within three years of it coming into force. And although this three-year deadline has already passed (July 1), it appears quite possible that the review will begin this fall, as the government referred CASL to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology (INDU) for review when the House returns from its summer break.
The CASL review provides an opportunity for stakeholders to air their grievances, and, hopefully, contribute to amendments that will make the law more reasonable and balanced. With these important objectives in mind, this issue of PrivacyScan is the first in a series that will consider some of the biggest problems with CASL and offer concrete recommendations for improvement. This issue starts by looking at how CASL inadvertently ended up applying to non-commercial transactional and relationship messages, with disastrous results.