Blais Says Regulator Is Ready for Canada Anti-Spam Battle

Canada’s telecommunications regulator is ready with specialists, laboratories, technology and finances to begin enforcing anti-spam legislation that comes into effect July 1, the agency’s head said today.

“We will be going after the most egregious violators: the high-volume spammers, the malicious URLs and the botnets located in Canada,” Jean-Pierre Blais, chairman of the Ottawa-based Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission said today at the Economic Club of Canada in Toronto. “We are not going to go after every indie rock band that’s trying to sell a new release to its fans. We have much bigger fish to fry.”

Canada passed the anti-spam laws in 2010 that will target businesses that flood people’s inboxes, mobile phones and social media streams with unsolicited messages. The CRTC will respond with written warnings, fines and lawsuits to people who use “false or misleading representations online” to promote products or services, collect personal information or obtain addresses without consent, Blais said.

The CRTC will be able to fine individuals as much as C$1 million ($930,000) and businesses as much as C$10 million. To enforce the law, Blais is banking on cooperation between Canada and other countries, partnerships with local telecommunications companies, and the use of phone “honeypots” -- certain numbers that will be monitored by authorities to trap offenders.

Specialists including former members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, criminal investigators and computer forensics experts will have a laboratory at their disposal to enforce the law, which excludes charities, political parties and survey companies.

“We’ve had time to plan for it, staff up and get the internal capacities to do it,” Blais said in an interview after his speech. “But it’s an entirely new business line. It’s going to be hard, but not impossible.”