CASL, the University Sector, and the Private Right of Action

I had the pleasure of speaking to the Council of Ontario Universities last week on the topic of Canada’s anti-spam law (CASL). July 1, 2017 is a milestone date with the private right of action (PRA) slated to come into force and the transitional period for the existing and non-existing business relationship implied consent provision coming to an end. Both these events are causing significant anxiety across the country and in countries with organizations doing business with Canadians, in all sectors. (My e-mail in-box and phone have been “ringing” off the hook.)

It’s such a shame that CASL’s anti-spam and computer program prohibitions weren’t properly calibrated to go after the real offenders – the purveyors of bulk/misleading commercial messages, malware and spyware. Ironically, these entities aren’t likely worried one bit about the PRA or the loss of the transitional provisions. The only organizations with temperatures rising are the ones for whom we never required anything like Canada’s indefensible anti-spam law, CASL including the university sector.

The Government should act swiftly to ensure that the PRA doesn’t come into force, at least not until the 2017 review is complete and necessary amendments are made to make CASL  proportionate and workable and to target only the real bad actors. Calls by Michael Geist, CASL’s greatest supporter, to not delay the implementation of the PRA because it is needed to fight cybercrime and to combat instances of ransomware entirely ignore the realities about CASL. If that is all it regulated, no one would be asking for the PRA to be deferred. See, Barry Sookman, Michael Geist’s defense of Canada’s indefensible anti-spam law CASL.

For more on CASL, see CASL: the unofficial FAQ, regulatory impact statement, and compliance guideline.

The slides from my talk to the COU are below.



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