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Ken Magill

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Aghhh! Chest ... Hurts ... This Can't Be

By Ken Magill


Shooting pain … left arm … can … barely … breathe.

Why the heart attack?

Well, there’s a reporter working for CBC News who wrote a story last week covering Canada’s new anti-spam legislation that was actually reasonably well thought out and explained accurately what the law probably will and will not do.

“Canada’s first anti-spam legislation will empower authorities to fine aggressive spammers. But while cyber security experts welcomed the bill on Wednesday, they say it may not dramatically reduce the volume of unsolicited emails we receive,” wrote Matt Kwong.

Uh oh. We’ve got trouble here. It looks like Kwong may have actually found an expert who knows the limits of anti-spam legislation. But he can’t possibly take the guy seriously, right? And there have to be a couple obligatory swipes at the U.S. Can Spam Act and marketers, right? Let’s read on.

“Bill C-28, the new Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam Act, is a misnomer for that reason, said David Poellhuber, the chief operating officer of the Montreal-based managed security firm ZeroSpam,” Kwong continued.

“'It's not going to have a bit of an effect on the total volume of spam,’ he told CBC News.”

What? Did I read that correctly? Why, yes I did. Gasp! Bam! [That was my fat ass falling out of the chair.]

“'The spam we receive is sent mostly from botnets, which account for 70 per cent of spam worldwide. That’s spam coming from your mother-in-law’s computer that’s infected. It’s coming from victims’ computers.’”

Wow. Obviously Kwong never got the memo on how consumer reporters are supposed to cover anti-spam legislation. And his head is not nearly as firmly planted in his rear as it’s supposed to be.

What he was supposed to write was that unlike the U.S. Can Spam Act, C-28 is opt-in based, meaning a marketer must get permission prior to sending commercial email.

Then he was supposed to claim that the Can Spam Act—which is opt-out based—is a failure because spam levels have risen dramatically since it passed. Never mind that just because B follows A doesn’t mean A caused B, and Can Spam has probably been leveraged in more prosecutions and settlements than all the other anti-spam laws in the world combined.

He was also supposed to write how great Australia’s anti-spam law is because it’s opt-in based even though spam levels in Australia have risen just as much as in the U.S., and that country’s law hasn’t been used in a tenth of the law-enforcement actions that Can Spam has.

But Kwong didn’t do any of those things.

Does he even have an editor? Here was a perfect opportunity to bash America and marketers at the same time and he didn’t take it. Did he not see it?

Kwong went on to accurately report what C28 will be good for.

“The new legislation cannot stop that bulk of potentially harmful electronic messages coming from foreign countries, Poellhuber said. ’But it’s a good thing to have an anti-spam law in Canada,’ Poellhuber said. ‘Because it will allow prosecution of cases such as the likes of Mr. [Adam] Guerbuez, the guy who was sued by Facebook for some $873 million.’

“Guerbez, from Montreal, was sued along with his company under the U.S. Can-Spam Act, after Facebook users were flooded with offers for marijuana and male-enhancement drugs.”

Man. There’s the Can-Spam Act and not one snide remark.

I’ve got to get through this piece quickly or the wife will soon be dancing through the living room with champagne in one hand and my will in the other.

Kwong can’t possibly be a true journalist. Message to Kwong: Matt, can I call you Matt? Consumer journalists hate marketing, especially any form of direct marketing. They generally don’t lift a finger to understand it—even though their paychecks depend on it—and bash it at every opportunity.

I trust your editor has taken you to the proverbial woodshed and you won’t diverge from consumer journalism’s anti-marketing groupthink ever again. Your piece on C28 was informed and well reasoned. You need to knock that shit off.

Message to long-time readers: Yeah, yeah. I know. I’ve used the heart-attack-falling-out-of-the-chair gag before. I was hoping you forgot.


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Terms: Feel free to be as big a jerk as you want, but don't attack anyone other than me personally. And don't criticize people or companies other than me anonymously. Got something crappy to say? Say it under your real name. Anonymous potshots and personal attacks aimed at me, however, are fine.

Posted by:
Date: 2010-12-21 15:03:20
Subject: I'll take that bet

First, what did I misspell? And second I can't take your bet anonymously. Got a name? Or is this Neil congratulating Neil? Read this slowly. It's bots that are responsible for the vast majority of spam. C-28 will do nothing to shut them down. If spam levels drop in 2011, it'll be because of something else, not Canadian legislation. And December 2012 is two years from now. Did you mean that?
Posted by:
Date: 2010-12-21 14:07:51
Subject: You misspelled

Congratulations, Neil, you and your CAUCE colleagues got a great law into place. Neil Schwartzman Executive Director The Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email P.S.: if you want to put your money where your mouth is regarding spam levels, I have $100 here that says you are as wrong as David Poellhuber. And that is very, very wrong. Talk to you, say December 2012?