Que. to introduce new DM legislation

Quebec, a leader of sorts in the regulation of advertising and promotion, introduces new legislation July 1 that affects direct marketers based in the province and those that conduct business with Quebec companies.Quebec's new law, the first of its kind on...

Quebec, a leader of sorts in the regulation of advertising and promotion, introduces new legislation July 1 that affects direct marketers based in the province and those that conduct business with Quebec companies.

Quebec’s new law, the first of its kind on the continent, seeks to protect Quebecers’ privacy by regulating the commercial exchange of mailing lists containing personal information.

The province earlier brought in rules governing advertising directed at children under 13.

The rules are far stricter than those found – if at all – elsewhere in the country.

Directly involved

Scott McClellan, communications manager for the Canadian Direct Marketing Association, says the cdma was directly involved with the creation of the new privacy provisions, a small part of wholesale legislative change in Quebec.

McClellan says the parts of the new privacy act that affect direct marketers are no more restrictive than the cdma’s own privacy code introduced last year.

‘Early drafts of the legislation, I don’t mind telling you, were quite frightening,’ McClellan says, however.

He cites one draft which called for companies to seek consumers’ permission before they could be targetted by direct mailers.

That, says McClellan, would have meant the death of the industry.

Barbara Robins, a lawyer and vice-president of legal services for Montreal-based Reader’s Digest, worked with the Quebec government on those parts of the new legislation affecting direct marketers.

Like McClellan, Robins also had some misgivings about early drafts of the new law, noting at one point the Quebec government wanted list brokers to be licensed.

However, Robins says the final version of the legislation ‘may restrict in a very small fashion’ the activities of direct marketers.

In its fall/winter newsletter, the cdma sets out aspects of the new legislation that will affect direct marketers.

The full title of the act is An Act Respecting the Protection of Personal Information in the Private Sector.

Article 22.1 of the new law will require a contract between a list supplier and a list user, and that it stipulate the user be prohibited from employing the list for other than commercial or philanthropic prospection.

In Article 22.2, the new legislation states when a list consists of clients, members of a group or organization or employees they can refuse to have their names used for commercial or philanthropic prospection.

Article 23 gives clients, and members and employees, the right to have their names and any other information deleted from a list through a ‘valid’ opt-out opportunity.

Article 24 of the new legislation requires those using a list for commercial or philanthropic purposes through the mail or telecommunications to identify themselves and to tell prospects of their right to have personal information deleted from the list.

The legislation’s Article 25 gives any Quebecer the right to have personal information removed from any commercial list by telling or writing the person using the list.

Article 26 requires anyone who gets such a request to act on it diligently.

Object

Also, Article 8 states anyone who collects personal information must, when establishing a file on an individual, tell that individual the object of the file, how it will be used, who will have access to it, where it will be kept, and his or her rights of access and correction.

Both McClellan and Robins point out other jurisdictions, notably Ontario, are watching the situation in Quebec.

Robins says the federal Privacy Commissioner is also monitoring what is happening.

Although Ontario’s ndp government, when in opposition, was a critic of the direct marketing industry, McClellan does not believe the party, now it is in power, is keen to introduce new rules governing direct mail. DC