Industry Canada

Industry Canada

May 17, 2005 15:16 ET

Industry Canada: Task Force on Spam Presents Final Report to Minister

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - May 17, 2005) - The Government of Canada's Task Force on Spam today presented its final report entitled, Stopping Spam: Creating a Stronger, Safer Internet, to the Honourable David L. Emerson, Minister of Industry.

The report calls for new, targeted legislation, as well as more rigorous enforcement, which would strengthen the legal and regulatory weapons that Canada could use in the global battle against spam. It also supports the creation of a focal point within government for coordinating the actions taken to address the spam issue and other related problems like spyware.

Minister Emerson congratulated the members of the Task Force on Spam for their work over the last year.

"We need to rid the Internet of the scourge of spam if Canada is going to be able to reap the full benefit of a strong e-economy," said Minister Emerson. "These recommendations merit strong consideration. I want to thank the Task Force members for their time and effort."

Industry Canada established the Task Force on Spam one year ago to oversee the implementation of the government's Anti-Spam Action Plan and to consider further action. The Task Force brought together leading representatives of ISPs, e-marketers, government and consumers. Working group participation included over 60 stakeholder groups, which provided input on such key areas as legislation and enforcement, international collaboration, and public education and awareness.

Under the leadership of the Task Force, these groups have already implemented practical measures aimed at reducing spam in Canada. Anti-spam "best practices" for network management and for commercial e-mail marketing are now in place. The Task Force also launched the Stop Spam Here Internet-based communications campaign to inform users of steps that they can take to limit and control the volume of spam they receive.

For more information on the Task Force on Spam, including the report, please visit: http://www.e-com.ic.gc.ca.



Backgrounder

Release of the Final Report of the Task Force on Spam


Government's Action Plan on Spam

On May 11, 2004, the Minister of Industry released the Government of Canada's six-point action plan on spam. The plan called on government, industry, business and consumers to work together on several initiatives, including:



- the use of existing laws and regulatory measures;
- the review of regulatory or legislative gaps;
- the improvement of current industry practices;
- the use of technology to validate legitimate commercial
communications;
- the enhancement of consumer education and awareness; and
- the promotion of international collaboration.


Task Force on Spam

A ministerial task force was struck to implement the action plan and to consider further action. The Task Force on Spam mobilized a diverse group of experts and stakeholders from industry, business, government and non-governmental organizations. Through its working groups, a roundtable and an online public forum, the Task Force consulted widely on the action plan.

Among the 60 stakeholders providing input were groups representing major Canadian Internet service providers (ISPs) and online businesses, consumers, governments and educational organizations.

Task Force's Major Findings

The Task Force's consultations confirmed the underlying principles of the government's action plan:



- Spam is more than a nuisance. It is increasingly being used to
carry viruses and worms, to commit fraud, to steal personal
information, and to invade privacy. Not only do these activities
drive up the costs for both consumers and businesses, but they
also threaten the integrity of the Internet as a platform for
communications and commerce.

- To effectively combat spam, government, industry, business and
consumers must continue to work together, using a variety of
instruments - from clear laws with strong penalties and vigorous
enforcement, to sound business practices, consumer awareness,
public education and international cooperation.


Task Force's Key Recommendations

Proposed legislation and more vigorous enforcement measures

Draft legislation to prohibit spam and to safeguard personal information and privacy as well as computers, e-mail and networks. The proposed law should allow individuals and corporations to sue spammers and hold the businesses whose products or services are being promoted through spam accountable.

As well, provide more resources to appropriate agencies to administer and enforce the new and existing anti-spam legislation.

Centre of expertise on spam

To oversee the coordination of all the spam initiatives, the Task Force suggested the creation of a focal point in government. The centre would coordinate policy and education campaigns, and support law enforcement efforts. It would also receive complaints and compile statistics on spam.

Strong industry best practices

To curb the volume of spam reaching users, the Task Force developed a series of industry best practices for ISPs, network operators and e-mail marketers. Examples include allowing ISPs and other network operators to block e-mail file attachments known to carry viruses and to stop e-mails with deceptive subject lines. As well, e-mail marketers should obtain informed consent from recipients to receive e-mails; provide an opting-out mechanism for further e-mails; and create a complaints system.

The report recommends that these groups voluntarily adopt, regularly review and enhance the best practices.

Public education campaign

To help change people's online behaviour, the Task Force created an online public education campaign, Stop Spam Here (www.stopspamhere.ca). Launched in December 2004, the Web site offers consumers, voluntary organizations and businesses practical tips for protecting their personal information, computers and e-mail addresses. The Task Force recommends that all partners continue to enhance the site's content.

Improved international cooperation and enforcement measures

As most of the spam reaching Canadians comes from outside the country, international measures to stem spam are vital. Therefore, the Task Force proposes that the government continue its efforts to harmonize anti-spam policies and to improve cooperation in enforcing anti-spam laws among different countries.

Task Force on Spam Members



Michael Binder, Assistant Deputy Minister, Spectrum, Information
Technologies and Telecommunications, Industry Canada (Chair)

Lori Assheton-Smith, Senior Vice-President and General Counsel,
Canadian Cable Telecommunications Association

Tom Copeland, President, Canadian Association of Internet Providers

Bernard Courtois, President, Information Technology Association of
Canada

Michael Geist, Canadian Research Chair in Internet and E-Commerce
Law, University of Ottawa

Amanda Maltby, Senior Vice President, Ipsos-Reid Public Affairs,
representing the Canadian Marketing Association

Suzanne Morin, Assistant General Counsel, Regulatory Law and Policy,
Bell Canada

Genevieve Reed, Head of Research and Representation, Option
consommateurs

Neil Schwartzman, Chair, Canadian Coalition Against Unsolicited
Commercial E-mail

Roger Tasse, Partner, Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP



Contact Information

  • Office of the Honourable David L. Emerson
    Minister of Industry
    Christiane Fox
    (613) 995-9001
    or
    Industry Canada
    Media Relations
    (613) 943-2502