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Redmond reinstates infosec mailing list after Canadian law panic

Canada Day legalese proves no match for Microsoft

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Microsoft has resurrected its Lazarus security mailing list, following apparent confusion over Canada's Anti-Spam Law (CASL) that came into effect on July 1st.

Redmond reversed an announcement Friday that it would shutter the Advanced Notification Service mailing list which would have forced email fans to get their infosec fix from Microsoft's RSS or social media feeds.

In an email last night Microsoft said it would resume the mailing list on 3 July.

"On June 27, 2014, Microsoft notified customers that we were suspending Microsoft Security Notifications due to changing governmental policies concerning the issuance of automated electronic messaging. We have reviewed our processes and will resume these security notifications with our monthly Advanced Notification Service on July 3, 2014," a company spokesentity told Krebs on Security.

The statement did not elaborate on why the policies triggered trouble for Redmond, but the Canadian law has ruffled the feathers of business groups in the country.

Bill C-28 which lead to the CASL passed through Canada's House of Commons and Senate to pass Parliament way back in December 2010. It was touted as a means to crack down on what the Government described as a spam influx that cost businesses 3bn Canadian dollars a year and would come into effect on 1 July, the national day of Canada.

The national regulator, the Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) said it intended to pursue the largest infringing spammers across borders with fines up to $1m for individuals and $10m for businesses for sending marketing materials to users who had not provided explicit consent to receive it. Organisations would have three years to upgrade from implied to explicit consent at which time the Government will review the effectiveness of the law.

It went beyond mere email spam and applied to software - such as spyware and potentially unwanted programs - text messages and even social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter messages.

The Canadian Federal Independent Business labelled the legislation "confusing" adding it was overly taxing on small businesses in the country.

It said that as of 30 June only 15 per cent of small business owners in the country were "fully aware" of the CASL requirements while 62 per cent took no steps to comply.

Canadian privacy pundit Michael Geist wrote in The Star CASL confusion was due to lax compliance with existing privacy laws.

"As Canadians receive a flood of requests for consent from long-forgotten organisations they never realised had collected and used their personal information in the first place, the controversy over the roll out of the new anti-spam law says more about poor compliance rates with current privacy laws than it does about the new regulations," Geist said.

"Email marketing stop will not stop Canada Day, but the arrival of the anti-spam law after a decade of debate does mean that Canadians are being meaningfully asked for the first time if they give consent to the collection, use and disclosure of their personal information, a change in approach that seems well worth celebrating." ®

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