A New Law on Spam Email

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The purpose of Canada's new anti-spam law is to block unwanted commercial messages and junk email, often called "spam" email. The law targets messages sent by email, instant messaging, cell phones and other similar ways.

Here is how the law will affect messages you get as of July 1, 2014.

The General Rule: No Messages Without Your Permission

The law says that you must clearly give permission before anyone can send you a commercial message.

What is a commercial message? The definition is broad. For example, it can include an email describing something for sale or directing you to a website.

Exceptions: Messages Sent Without Your Permission

People with whom you have done business in the past two years can continue to send you emails even without your permission. For example, this could be the case if you bought something in a store, or did volunteer work for an organization. In these cases, the law assumes that you gave permission to receive messages.

However, within the next two years, the senders of these messages must make sure that you still want to be on their lists. If you don't, they must take you off.

There are other messages that the law does not affect:

  • messages sent because you made some kind of request, such as making complaint or asking a question
  • messages from a registered charity about fundraising


If the Law Is Not Respected: Complaints

People who do not respect the anti-spam law can be fined up to $10 million dollars!

If a message is sent without your permission, or the content of an email is misleading or false, you can file a complaint with the Spam Reporting Centre.