Electronic Commerce Protection Act going to committee after odd debate

Geist-48X68.jpgPosted by Michael Geist
The Electronic Commerce Protection Act (Bill C-27) is headed for committee review following two days of rather strange debate in the House of Commons last Thursday and Friday. What was ensued was alternately predictable and bizarre. The predictable part was the all-party support for anti-spam legislation. MPs from all four parties talked about the need for anti-spam legislation, how it was long overdue, it is costly, it undermines confidence, etc.

The bizarre part was the discussion on the bill's implications for the do-not-call list. As I wrote soon after the bill was introduced, buried at the very end are provisions that kill the do-not-call list. Given the problems associated with the list, moving toward an opt-in approach (rather than DNCL's opt-out) could be a good thing. Yet the government seems determined to deny that the bill lays the groundwork to kill the list.

The debate started on Thursday when NDP MP Charlie Angus asks why the government seems reluctant to discuss the do-not-call provisions in the ECPA. Parliamentary Secretary Mike Lake responds that "I will start by correcting the hon. member. The bill clearly does not abolish the do-not-call registry." It continues when MP Jean Crowder (after citing some of my earlier work on do-not-call) talks about how the ECPA will correct some of the problems associated with the DNCL. Lake responds that Crowder "spoke more about other legislation than this legislation." Crowder later raises the issue again and this time Conservative MP Terence Young says "it should be noted that the electronic commerce protection act will not abolish the do-not-call list. I think the member might be aware of that. There are published reports to that effect, and it is not true. For greater certainty, there is a section of the bill that remains dormant until it is made law by an order-in-council and by regulation. Click here to read more of Michael's post.

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