Has government laid down new red tape that is making it riskier to conduct business online? If you ask Toronto-based law firm Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (BLG), the answer is yes – new legislation is exposing businesses to more liability.
Government actions on this front haven’t been without good reason. They’re crafted to further protect consumers and their privacy in a digital age where personal details can often be accessed easily and it can be too tempting to sell that information to third parties or use it in an advertising campaign without consent. But the result for business is that marketing activities or even Web site analytics practices that have been taken for granted so far may soon become illegal.
Examples presented by BLG include the new anti-spam act, which will require businesses to have consent before sending an e-mail to a consumer. While the act may not come into force until next year, and new exemptions have been added to it recently, there’s still the chance that sending a single unwanted e-mail could land a firm in hot water.
Also, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada conducted a study last summer that found many popular Web sites were leaking the personal information of Canadians to unauthorized third parties such as advertisers and analytics firms. It’s possible that many more Web sites are in violation of privacy laws in similar ways to this and could face punitive action as a result. The Privacy Commissioner is also issuing a set of guidelines for online behavioural advertising that will make that activity more cumbersome.
While the new laws seem tough to comply with, BLG has seven tips it’s suggesting to get your business started down that path. Better to act now than to end up with legal bills and a tarnished reputation down the line.