Commercial Email and International Electronic Commerce: The Developing Legal Context for CASL and CAN-SPAM

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Canada's Anti-Spam Law of 2010 and the U.S. CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 can be best understood when placed within a broader national and international legal context. Because digital technologies drawing on telecommunications infrastructures have developed so rapidly, legislators and judges have struggled to keep pace. Furthermore, because electronic commerce is by nature no respecter of borders, lawmakers have struggled to accomodate the new technologies within legal systems structured on the basis of territorial, national law. Nevertheless, broader legal and policy infrastructures are beginning to emerge.

Legal scholars and practitioners tend to treat anti-spam law either (1) as part of a larger framework of privacy law, or (2) as part of a larger framework of telecommunications and computer-related law. Canada's Anti-Spam Law of 2010 can be seen as drawing these two strands together in an effort to create a comprehensive legal framework for internet-based commerce. See Canadian Anti-Spam Act of 2010: Legislative Background.

Building on this emerging scholarly and practical consensus, this portion of the Inbox Project will survey the broader national and international legal contexts within which commercial email activity takes place. We will focus on privacy, telecommunications, and computer-related law in the U.S., Canada, and Europe, but we will also seek to provide information about other developing national and international legal frameworks relevant to commercial email and electronic commerce. Practical issues relating to international applicability and enforcement will receive particular focus.