To assist with the implementation of Canada’s new anti-spam law, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (“OPC”) recently released E-Marketing Guidance. The anti-spam law came into force on July 1, 2014 and amended the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (“PIPEDA”) regarding the collection, use and sharing of personal information. In particular, the amendments relate to “address harvesting.” which is the use of computer programs to scrape websites and compile lists of electronic addresses. PIPEDA now requires consent for the collection and use of email addresses for marketing purposes. Entities who receive email addresses from third parties must ensure that the third party obtained the appropriate consents and can be held accountable if no consent has been given.
Along with the guidance, the OPC released tips for businesses and consumers regarding the new law. The tips for businesses include asking email address providers about their methods for collection, obtaining consent, and updating their lists, and the guidance that consumers should be able to withdraw consent for the use of their email addresses at any time. The tips also recommend documenting due diligence in writing. Tips for consumers include using the words “and” and “dot” in place of the symbols when posting email addresses online, creating separate emails for personal use and online activity, using caution when opening emails or attachments from unknown senders, and installing and updating security software from a reliable company.