Wednesday November 26, 2014

Anti-spam legislation is flawed


The federal government has enacted Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation, which they say is designed to prevent you from receiving emails that are considered to be, at least, a nuisance and, at most, criminal in an attempt to steal personal information. What the law actually does is prevent reputable businesses from, effectively, advertising and does not address the issue of spam at all. You can’t prove where these fraudulent emails come from. It’s always from a hotmail address that could be sent from anywhere on the planet.  The law says it will be illegal to send emails (in Canada, it doesn’t prevent you from sending them if you are in any other country) through mass marketing unless you have consent from the recipient and that consent cannot be gained through email (as of July 1st).

So, there you have it. In a world where electronic messaging is becoming more and more effective as a means of advertising, the Canadian government has kneecapped businesses who have been already using this method. Obviously, I am one of the people affected so I recognize what the law is doing. I have about 700 customers and potential customers on my list. I like to send out emails once a week, but sometimes it’s not that frequently. I send them when I think I have something my customers could be interested in.  It’s, almost, guaranteed that I will get 1 sale from that email and 3-4 leads on other future sales. Sometimes the return can be even greater. Imagine telling radio stations they can no longer run advertisements because listeners feel it’s a nuisance to be subjected to them?  That’s what’s happening with this anti-spam law.  In fact, I’ll take this one step further and tell you that I’ve heard radio ads (television too) where the announcer is telling me I can enlarge my manhood or I can drop weight without the hard work of dieting and/or exercise.  Common sense tells me these ads are a fraud, but there’s nothing preventing them from putting their nonsense out to the general public and, obviously, they net a few fish or else these companies wouldn’t still be in business.

The government has also done nothing to really enforce the Do Not Call list for spam telephone calls, or if they have there are outfits that have found plenty of loopholes because the business I work for gets, at least, one call a day despite being on the Do Not Call list.   

I don’t proclaim to be smart, but my idea on how to, effectively, end spam emails is to hold the internet service provider accountable and if they need to hold companies like hotmail or gmail accountable in order to meet the requirements, so be it. I, suspect, if Canada and the United States came up with a law that required hotmail, gmail, and other email address companies to provide proof of origin on all the emails that are sent out in the event of a criminal act; you would soon see an end to such emails. Instead, reputable businesses are forced to jump through more hoops and keep more hard copy files on hand to prove they aren’t harassing people.

How much money is it going to cost to employ a stiff in Ottawa who siphons through the complaints, a lot of which won’t go beyond the complaint stage anyway when it’s unable to be proven where the email came from and whether or not the business accused actually sent it or were they also, fraudulently, misrepresented? Remember, we live in a country where you can kill someone on video and still be found not guilty.

Here’s the real nuisance: I had to reply to the Yorkton Chamber of Commerce and let them know I want to remain on their email list. If I don’t, they are going to take me off because they need to comply with the law. As a person doing business, it’s possible I am too busy and will forget to let the Chamber know. Then, when I miss something that I feel is important, they are going to tell me that since I never replied to stay on their list that it’s my fault. And, they are right. It will be my fault. It’s my fault that I have to stop work and reply to someone to let them know that it is still okay to send me an email.  How, utterly, ridiculous.

What’s more convenient is to receive the email and give it 0 time should I choose. Some of you are going to receive an incredible amount of email in the coming weeks asking to remain or be part of a mail group. After the first two or three it’s going to feel like spam and you are, likely, going to reply ‘no’ because you are tired of this nonsense. So, thanks a lot to the Canadian government for a very short sighted, make-work project law.



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