History repeats itself, some have said. A fears about the private sector being unprepared for the Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL)  a perfect example?

University of Ottawa Internet law professor Michael Geist thinks so. In a blog this week he draws a parallel between claims that organizations aren’t ready for the law, parts of which come into effect July 1, and the introduction of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) a decade ago.

In fact, the news site you’re reading now is one of the pieces of evidence Geist cites as proof. A month after PIPEDA came into effect we carried a column by Ian Turnbull, then director of the Canadian Privacy Institute,  warning that “most Canadian organizations are not aware of the depth and breadth of either PIPEDA or the accompanying provincial legislation. And very few are prepared to comply.”

Leap forward to this week, when the Canadian Federation of Independent Business quoted a new member survey that only 15 per cent of small business owners are fully aware of CASL’s requirements, and most (62 per cent) have taken no steps to comply. More work needs to be done to make CASL friendlier to small companies, it says.

For similar claims Geist repeats an earlier comment: Any organization that already sends commercial electronic messages presumably complies with PIPEDA, which — like CASL — requires organizations to obtain user consent, allow users to withdraw their consent, and provide the necessary contact information to do so.

” Compliance with the new anti-spam law (CASL) involves much the same obligations,” he writes. “While there are certainly some additional technical requirements and complications (along with tough penalties for failure to comply), the basics of the law involve consent, withdrawal of consent (ie. unsubscribe), and accessible contact information.”

How unprepared is your organization? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of ITWorldCanada.com and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including ITBusiness.ca and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@] soloreporter.com