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Spam Plummets 37% in Canada

Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL), which is coming up on its year anniversary in July, is having a notable effect: Spam originating from Canada dropped 37% since CASL went into effect.

According to email security firm Cloudmark, the monthly average volume of total email in the country has dropped 29%.

“We believe this is because there was a lot of marketing email which was not technically spam but did not meet the strong requirements for affirmative consent required by CASL,” Cloudmark research analyst Andrew Conway wrote in a blog.

The study also found that 53% of the spam that Canadians receive actually originates from the US. And, 78% of spam sent from Canada flows right on back to the US.

“We normally imagine that most spam sent to North America and Western Europe is coming from other countries: the Nigerian con artist, the Chinese vendor of fake designer goods, or the Russian selling bootleg pharmaceuticals,” said Conway. “However, we also see huge volumes of spam coming from US based organizations.”

In March, the Canada Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) levied its first major fine, for $1.1 million, against Compu-Finder, which was responsible for 26% of all complaints lodged under CASL. Then, Vancouver-based dating site PlentyOfFish agreed to pay $48,000 a bit later in March.

Under the Canadian anti-spam legislation (CASL), CRTC can dole out corrective actions to individuals, firms or organizations, and can also issue warning letters, preservation demands, notices to produce, restraining orders and notices of violation.

"CASL has already demonstrated its ability to punish marketers who violate its provisions, levying more than $1 million in fines in just the first two cases, one of which was with a high-profile internet company,” MailChannels CEO Ken Simpson told Infosecurity. “While off-shore spammers don't seem deterred by CASL, because they are beyond the reach of Canadian law enforcement, anyone acting in a grey area is taking steps to avoid CASL, and this is definitely reducing the volume of ‘grey area’ email marketing in Canada.”

He added, “We don't expect CASL to significantly reduce pill popping, porn, and other hard core forms of spam that originate from senders domiciled off-shore, but CASL will have a global effect on grey area spam."

Overall, CASL could prove to be a model for other regulators. “The Canadian law is proving effective in reducing inbox clutter and could act as a model for stronger anti-spam laws in the (US, UK) and other countries,” Conway wrote.

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