Marketing Up North (905 words)
The issue of consumer privacy is heating up around the world, and Canada is no exception. A national privacy bill is pending in Canada's parliament and is expected to pass this May or June; it will come into effect 12 months later.
Unlike its U.S. counterpart—a proponent of industry self-regulation—the CMA was active in calling for federal privacy legislation. The CMA has had a comprehensive privacy code since 1993, but realized it was not compulsory outside its organization. It found that legislation was essential to build consumer confidence, and that it was better to introduce legislation in a thoughtful debate rather than in the heat of a crisis, explains CMA President, John Gustavson.
Two parts of the pending bill are relative to direct marketers. The first says you may not collect, use or disclose information without permission. However, the CMA has negotiated the concepts of implied, negative-option and express consent.
The second part of the bill concerns access to public information. The way the current bill is worded it would shut down access to public information, says Gustavson, who is working to amend the bill to allow limited access to information in the public domain. For example, direct marketers may have access only to names and addresses on mortgage records.
According to Gustavson, CMA's challenge is to get the legislation through parliament with only the one amendment pertaining to public information. Afterward, Canada's provinces have three years to implement their own legislation or adopt national legislation in its absence.