Canada’s “Simply Inadequate” Anti-Spam Laws

Earlier this week, Facebook won a huge judgment – $832 million to be exact – against a Canadian spam lord, Adam Guerbuez. This was the biggest award ever made under the US federal anti-spam legislation. Facebook doesn’t expect to collect much from the judgment, but it’s definitely another blow against spammers.

in an article in today’s Globe, Michael Geist explains that Facebook brought their action in California rather than Canada because Canadian law doesn’t provide an adequate remedy against spammers. He describes our own laws as “simply inadequate”.

I wonder if anti-spam legislation is on the Tories’ agenda for the next Parliament? I don’t recall it being mentioned during the election campaign, but it’s something I’d like to see.


  1. The Globe article is totally off point about the possibility of enforcing the California judgment here. It simply does not matter to enforcement whether Canada has its own similar law. The only questions that the court will ask when Facebook comes to sue on its US judgment here will be:

    i) did the court have jurisdiction? Was there a real and substantial connection with the case in California. Clear answer: Yes.

    ii) was the defendant properly served? It doesn’t matter if he showed up or not, so long as service was acceptable by California rules and not too egregiously inadequate by ours. I don’t know the answer in the Facebook case.

    iii) is it contrary to public policy to enforce the award? It is not clear just what would have to be shown to refuse enforce. The Supreme Court in Beals v Saldhana spoke of a judgment that would shock the conscience of Canadians to enforce.

    The interesting aspect of the Facebook case is that the damages were statutory, i.e. calculated according to a formula in the statute (CAN-SPAM Act) rather than according to any demonstrated loss to Facebook. Half the award is for aggravated damage, also calculated according to the statute.

    Canadian courts have so far enforced US judgments with damage awards far larger than the value of the transaction – though none (so far as I know) with a really astronomical jury-chosen punitive element. (The ridiculous Loewen funeral home judgment was not brought to Canada for enforcement; it was sufficiently harmful in the US.)

    Whether there will be some limit to statutory damage enforcement will be an interesting element of the Facebook case – though the defendant hasn’t anywhere near the resources to pay the full amount anyway, apparently.

    So whether Canada should have its own anti-spam law or whether it would have been better to sue the person here rather than in California (where the damage was done and where the spam efforts were targeted) are both irrelevant questions to the enforceability of the decision here.

    The Tories did I believe promise somewhere in their campaign material to bring in anti-spam legislation, but what the priority of such a promise may be now is anyone’s guess (except for those who aren’t talking, I suppose.)