Electronic Commerce Protection Act passes House of Commons, moves to Senate

The Electronic Commerce Protection Act, Canada's anti-spam bill (Bill C-27) passed through the House of Commons yesterday as a motion to support sending the bill to the Senate received approval. The bill received all-party support but will undoubtedly face an intense lobbying campaign at the Senate. Copyright lobbyists, real estate agents, and marketing survey companies were among the most aggressive lobby groups seeking changes when the bill was considered by the Industry Committee. Tony Clement stood his ground and the resulting bill is a good one. Indeed, the lobbying efforts and attempts to weaken the bill did not go unnoticed. During yesterday's discussion in the House, NDP MP Brian Masse, the party's representative on the Industry Committee, noted "when it gets to the Senate we will see whether or not there is going to be another lobby effort either to kill the bill or to weaken it some more."

Meanwhile, Liberal MPs who failed to garner support for their reforms were still pressing for changes. MP Siobhan Coady stated "while the Liberal Party believes the bill remains unnecessarily restrictive to legitimate business in its approach in many regards, we will support the bill at third reading as action must be taken against spam. We will monitor the legislation closely going forward to ensure that it does not stifle legitimate electronic commerce in Canada." Getting C-27 through the House is a big step, but the lobby attempts to water down the bill will no doubt be back for another round as the bill hits the Senate.

Michael Geist is a law professor and the Canada Research Chair in Internet and e-commerce law at the University of Ottawa.