Anti-spam law will affect software makers from January

Canadian anti-spam law

The controversial anti-spam law in Canada has already compelled businesses to change their email communication with customers. However, the law will also begin to target software manufacturers from early next year.

From Jan. 15, 2015, companies will need to obtain consent prior to setting up any software on the computer of an individual in case the application is able to send electronic messages in a covert manner or consists of some other functionality delineated in the law.
Companies also need to reveal to users clearly whether the application can gather personal details change data, preferences or settings on the system, allow some third party to access the system, interfere with the usual operations of the computer or intervene with the usual operations of your computer. According to the law, the disclosure has to be delineated prominently, clearly and separately and “apart from the license agreement.”
The law has been framed to lash out at the makers of spyware and malware. However, it can also affect software firms that are legitimate and for non-compliance even such companies can face fines of up to $10 million.
However, the law exempts JavaScript code, HTML, web cookies, operating systems and software upgrades or updates in case a firm can prove that a user has consented to setting up the program prior to its installation.
The legislation, as expected, set off a debate and opposing reactions from all quarters. The legislation is supported by the likes of Michael Geist, a professor at the University of Ottawa and the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law. According to him customers are putting on their systems a lot of stuff often without having much knowledge about the same and said that it “raises the bar in terms of consumer awareness when they’re installing software, better awareness about what that software will do, and greater disclosure requirements on the part of businesses seeking to install those programs.”
However, Michael Fekete, who is a lawyer with the Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt law firm based in Toronto, criticizes the law and says that it is circumventing and should have specifically concentrated on spyware and malware. While he admits that spyware and malware are undoubtedly things which need to be banned, there is a wide range of programs “that are regulated regardless of whether the software will have a negative impact.”
Geist, however, thinks that it will not be taxing to abide by the law and the change will be supported by Canadians.