E-mail inboxes may soon see the end of spam due to proposed legislation that could stop marketers from selling or renting lists of addresses.
The Electronic Commerce Protection Act, also known as Bill C-27, will require marketers to obtain consumer consent before sending them an e-mail. This consent can be either implied if a relationship already exists with the company, or through signing up for a list.
Currently, if a consumer gives his or her e-mail address to one organization, the organization is permitted to sell it to another business. The company is then allowed to use those e-mail addresses for marketing purposes.
The bill hopes to put a stop to the selling process, resulting in fewer unwanted e-mails for consumers.
Bill C-27 was expected to go through a clause-by-clause reading before a Parliamentary committee yesterday.
The Canadian Marketing Association is asking their member organizations to lobby their members of Parliament to encourage changes to the bill.
“CMA is not recommending wholesale changes to Bill C-27,” Ed Cartwright, senior director of communications for CMA, said.
Instead, he added, the CMA wants businesses to be allowed to continue using consumers’ e-mails who have given consent to having a relationship with the business. He also noted once a consumer has given consent, the business should have the ability to transfer an e-mail to other businesses.
The CMA has also expressed a concern over the inability of Internet marketers to reach out to potential customers if Bill C-27 is passed, due to the restrictions it places on transfer of e-mails.
“This provision would allow for the strictly limited use of an accepted business practice that complies with Canada’s privacy law,” Cartwright added.
“The consumer interest is by and large best supported by allowing consumers to opt-in, instead of being forced to opt-out,” Ken Hardy, professor emeritus at Western’s Richard Ivey School of Business, said. “If products needed everyday were promoted, maybe I would change my mind.”
He noted opting-out makes marketing easier, while creating difficulties for consumers who may not know how to opt-out.
“I know I am conditioned not to want [e-mails] unless I sign up for it,” Hardy said.
“It’s really annoying. I don’t know which e-mails […] I’m supposed to be reading,” Alanna Edge, a second-year science student, said. Edge added she gets up to 30 spam e-mails a week.
“Unless it had something to do with getting coupons or savings, I’m probably not interested [in opting-in],” she added.
Hardy also added the legislation, as it is currently proposed, could help businesses: “It creates a group that has indicated interest and therefore is a much more valuable group.”
In addition, Hardy mentioned businesses use spam because it is a cheap way to reach many people — one sale could turn a profit on their spending. The largest cost associated with it is the purchase of the e-mail list.