What “Report Spammers, Not People” Really Means

19185739 copyBecause my company is one of tens of thousands of small businesses that uses email to get information about my business out to people I think will appreciate having it, and who potentially could benefit from a relationship with my company I was angered, to say the least, at the government’s new Anti-Spam legislation.

For the past couple of weeks I have been dividing my time between work projects and the business of seeking compliance from the 500 or so companies on my database, with whom I have been very infrequently communicating for a number of years.

I have, as I am sure many other small businesses do, a couple of problems with this legislation:

1. I don’t have a problem with spam. Most of the unsolicited emails I get are filtered into a junk folder which I check once a week to make sure something important did not slip through, then erase. So I find this legislation frivolous in the extreme.

2. I feel that the extension of the definition of ‘spam’ down to individual business inquiries is, to say the least, a severe impediment to my right to free and open business communications in the environment that today’s technology has created. It is ludicrous to have created a situation where you would have to prove that you have permission to email some one, when gaining that permission in the first place means that the person you are communicating with has no intention of reporting you as a spammer anyway. This is a huge Catch 22 that is severely impeding the progress of small business in this country, and it will only get worse.

Paranoia Strikes Deep

Another area of concern is the paranoia that the media has created around this issue. They have sensationalized it, like they sensationalize everything else, and in the small business community they have created a real climate of fear among those who are aware of this legislation.

This paranoia is nowhere near as widespread as it will be, when the first companies start being fined anywhere from $1 million to $10 million for infractions.

High Levels Of Ignorance and Inactivity

Finally, the biggest problem of all is that currently, in the first week of July as I write this a substantial majority of small businesses in the country have done nothing to deal with this legislation, and a large part of that is because many of these companies are completely unaware that this law is now active and enforceable.

The blame for this sits squarely on the shoulders of the Conservative government, proving once again that they are happy to trample on the rights of Canadians in pursuit of eliminating a problem that hardly anybody has.

Class Action Suits Waiting To Happen

The levels of penalty applicable under this law are ridiculous. For those small businesses who do get caught in this strange web, the alternative to bankruptcy is to challenge the law in court, and I am assured that there are a number of lawyers chomping at the bit right now to collect clients and launch class actions suits against the government, mainly through issues surrounding restriction of trade, I would imagine.

This will either force substantial amendments to this law, for fundamental changes in the way it is enforced. But either way, this will only serve to further erode the credibility of this government and, of course, tie up the courts of this country for years to come,

The Most Important Thing To Remember

REPORT BADGEThe engine that makes this legislation go is that it is a report based system. In other words someone has to go through the hassle of a government reporting process in order to identify anyone they think is a spammer.

So as part of my, let’s call it, protest against this draconian legislation I have created a simple golden rule, which is summarized in the button on your right.

What it means is that if someone sends you a personally addressed email and if that email has an opt out or unsubscribe feature on it, it’s not really spam. It’s a one to one communication which contains information that the sender believes would be of interest to you. If it’s not, then you can simply unsubscribe and you will never hear from that person again. But it if it is something your business could benefit from, then that’s a win win for everyone.

Let’s not let the government determine the levels of humanity we are allowed to exhibit towards each other. This is still a great and open society we live in. Let’s do everything we can to keep it that way.

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Email: jim@onandup.ca or onandup3@gmail.com
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