Editorial: Anti-spam laws a waste of time

We doubt there is anyone who hasn’t been annoyed by spam.

We’re not talking about that delicious canned spiced ham, but the endless stream of e-mails advertising everything from Viagra to Rolux  (sic) or the $30 million a nice man in Nigeria wants to send you.

We’re being a bit silly here, but what is really ludicrous is the federal government’s new anti-spam legislation, which takes effect on July 1.

It is hard to imagine a more trivial non-problem for the government to concern itself with, let alone how the rules, which require businesses get written or oral consent before they send e-mails or other digital messages to consumers will put an end to spam.

The new regulations address a problem that, by and large, has already been dealt with through technological means; spam filters at the level of both your home computer and your Internet Service Provider are sophisticated, effective and constantly being updated.

This legislation also doesn’t do much to stop the particular flavour of spam email that is a problem: fraudulent or phishing e-mails trying to scam you into revealing your personal information. They’re unlikely to ask your permission either.

On the end user side of the question, there will be some that want to file grievances regardless of how effective their spam filter has been, and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is already saying they won’t be able to handle the expected flood of complaints.

So what have the feds accomplished with their new anti-spam legislation? An increase in bureaucracy, to be sure, but not much else. We would prefer they concentrate on legislation that actually means something.


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