Jan 062012

The Vancouver Sun is reporting that the Canadian government is setting up a $700,000 annual-operating budget “spam reporting centre” for people to report their unsolicited communications.

Dubbed “The Freezer,” the new centre will accept unsolicited electronic messages forwarded by individuals, businesses and organizations in Canada, including spam, malware (malicious software), spyware, short message services (SMS), and false and misleading representations involving the use of any means of telecommunications, according to Industry Canada.

The Freezer is to field reports and complaints of spam and related electronic threats and collect information that’s either voluntarily provided or publicly available. The information could then be used as evidence of potential violations and assist enforcement agencies in levying fines or other penalties.

According to the article, the government passed anti-spam legislation in 2010 that has yet to come into force. It would allow for penalties ranging from $1 million per violation for individuals to $10 million for businesses, although some parties, such as charities, political parties, surveys conducted not on behalf of a specific product and businesses which can prove they have an online relationship with a consumer would be exempt.

The bill, which pro-posed to establish penalties in the millions of dollars and would pave the way for the reporting facility, likely will take effect when The Freezer is operational. There’s no immediate timeline for when the centre will be up and running. Tom Copeland, chairman of the Canadian Association of Inter-net Providers and member of the spam task force, said the government and private sector alike are worried about consumers being spooked by spam.

“One of our concerns was the way [spam] would lessen people’s confidence in ecommerce and if something wasn’t done about it people would just say ‘I’m not going to buy online, I’m not going to do my banking online,'” Copeland said.

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