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ECPA :: Learn

In April 2009, Industry Minister Tony Clement introduced the Electronic Commerce Protection Act, Bill C-27, offering a legislative approach to combating spam, counterfeit websites and spyware. The main purpose of this act is to instill consumer confidence in e-commerce. This bill, which contains many of the recommendations of the Canadian Task Force on Spam, would be a well balanced and comprehensive response if adopted by the government.

Yet the ECPA faces opposition from a number of interest groups that wish to water down its protections.


The Origins of 'SPAM'

We have Monty Python to thank for the origin of the word 'SPAM'. This popular skit was released in the 70's as part of Monty Python's Flying Circus. The term was adopted in the 80's to refer to unsolicited messages and particularly unsolicited online messages.




The Problem with SPAM

SPAM is a serious problem plaguing Canadian consumers and businesses alike. Recent estimates state that approximately 90% of all email messages are SPAM. SPAM plagues our inboxes and eats up our valuable time and degrades Canadians' online experience. This is especially worrying given the significant and growing role the Internet plays in commerce today. And SPAM is even bad for the environment! A recent report found that the amount of energy wasted on sending, receiving and hand-deleting SPAM annually consumes enough electricity to power a city the size of Chicago for two years, not to mention about 20 million tons of greenhouse gases.

the annual sending, receiving and hand-deleting of 62 trillion email spams consumes 33 terawatt hours of energy every year. Producing that energy emits about 20 million tons of greenhouse gases. In the translational shorthand of environmentalism, that’s enough juice to power Chicago for two years, and the greenhouse equivalent of driving 1.6 million cars around the Earth.

But perhaps more serious are the phishing and pharming activities that accompany SPAM. Phishing and pharming messages involve attempts to get personal information of Canadians, generally with the ultimate purpose of committing identity theft.

Phishing and Pharming are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and recent figures state that as many as 55,000 people fall for Phishing schemes every month! Costs emerging from the resulting identity thefts are enormous.

The ECPA will finally give Canadians rights against spammers and put in place a comprehensive framework for fighting SPAM.


Fun facts about the ECPA

  • Canada is the only G8 country still lacking legislation of this sort.

  • The ECPA targets a number of problematic online activities: spam, identity theft resulting from phishing and pharming, malware and spyware. Such harmful activity costs Canadian individuals and businesses billions of dollars every year.

  • The ECPA protections are based on the principle of accountability – they give Canadians greater control over their computers and their inboxes by forcing software developers and spammers to gain their informed consent. Accountability is a standard that has proven effective and not too onerous in other ares of business regulation. It is generally considered good business practice.

  • The proposed bill will not only give Canadians the right to sue those that break its norms, but also gives a number of regulatory agencies the power and mandate to deal with spammers, identity thieves and progenitors of malware and spyware.