Two years after Parliament passed anti-spam legislation, the bill has yet to take effect -- and Canadians could be waiting for several more years before they see any impact in their inboxes.

The legislation came out of recommendations made by a national task force that included Ottawa lawyer and Internet privacy specialist Michael Geist.

The regulations have been revised a few times since, which Geist blamed on backlash by business groups that fear eventually there won’t be a market for their messages.

“I don’t think anybody supports the body-part enlargement spam or other sorts of things,” Geist told CTV’s Power Play on Tuesday.

“But the concern from some of those business organizations is that the law actually seeks to move us from a world in which they might imply someone’s consent to continue to send them commercial electronic messages, to a world in which you’ve got to have people opt in to that. And they’re reluctant to move to a world where consumers have to proactively say, ‘Yes I’d like you to send me stuff,’ because I think in large measure they’re afraid many consumers might say no.”

The legislation prohibits messages from being sent to consumers without their consent, and calls for easy opt-out processes. It also establishes a spam-reporting centre, and allows the CRTC to fine groups that don’t comply with the legislation.

But once the new regulations take effect, and it’s not clear when that will be, groups will be able to continue to send spam with the consent they already have from members of the public.

Geist said it will be three years from the time it’s first implemented to when the legislation fully comes into effect, during which time groups won’t be compelled to update the consent they have already obtained from members of the public.

Geist commended the government for not bending to requests for more loopholes from some business groups, but said if the legislation is not enforced until 2014, “some rules won’t take effect until 2017.”