If you have not already heard, Canada’s new Anti-Spam Law is quickly coming down the pipe and will be in full force July 1, 2014. Generally referred to as CASL, Canada is one of the last G8 countries to adopt Anti-Spam legislation, and it’s one of the toughest out there.
If you run a home-based or small business, and if you use the Internet, mobile devices or social media to promote your products, services or business, CASL may affect your business.
CASL applies to ALL commercial electronic messages (CEM) such as email, SMS, social media or instant messaging. A CEM is any electronic message that encourages participation in a commercial activity.
Infographic courtesy of the Government of Canada
Here is the biggie, big deal when it comes to CASL, come July 1st, you will need to obtain consent from the recipient before sending the message and prove you received consent. There will be monetary penalties for violating CASL with a maximum of $1M per violation for an individual and $10M for corporations. These are huge fines – it only takes one email!
In other words, you will need to track how you obtained consent of each individual to whom you send a CEM.
So how do you do that? What defines consent?
Express consent is explicit permission gathered either electronically, in writing or orally with documentation. An individual must take action to “opt-in” to a stated purpose.
When requesting consent, CLEARY describe what they will get, what they are signing up for and that they are opting to receive commercial messages from you. Plainly define what you are offering in exchange for their email address.
So if you are a vendor at a trade show and have a newsletter sign-up sheet at your table, make sure you keep those sheets – that is your opt-in proof!
Example of a Express Consent Opt-in:
“I agree to receive [Company’s Name] newsletter containing news, updates and promotions regarding [Company Name]. I can withdraw my consent at any time.”
Implied consent relates to your existing business or non-business relationships. Implied consent also has a time limit of 2 years.
For implied consent, you will need to ask yourself, can I show I have an existing business or non-business relationship with this person? Did the recipient disclose their address to me? Is their address published? Is there a statement saying they don’t wish to be contacted?
It will be vital to keep proper records of any information showing consent!
When Does CASL Not Apply?
Some of the instances where CASL does not apply include:
Quotes or estimates;
Messages that facilitate or confirm transactions;
Provides warranty, recall, safety or security information;
Provides information about ongoing use or ongoing purchases, ongoing subscription, membership, accounts, loans or similar employment relationships or benefit plans;
Delivers a product good or service, including updates and upgrades;
If you have a personal relationship with the recipient;
You’ve previously had direct, voluntary, two-way communication;
Within or between business, where there’s an ongoing relationship;
In response to a request;
To enforce a legal right or obligation;
By registered charities raising funds;
By political candidates or organizations, soliciting political contributions.
Special Cases – Third Party Referrals Under CASL
You may refer a prospective client to another person if you have an existing relationship with the prospective client
If you receive a referral, you may send one CEM to the prospective client
The CEM must include the full name of the individual who made the referral.
How Do You Make Your CEM’s CASL Compliant Come July 1?
Three things must be included in each electronic message you send under CASL:
- You must clearly identify yourself.
- Provide a method where the recipient can readily contact you including current mailing address.
- Provide a working unsubscribe mechanism. Action must be taken on every unsubscribe request within 10 days or less and at no cost to the recipient.
Identify your name and business, the name of anyone else on whose behalf you are sending the message, and a current mailing address. Also include a phone number, email address, or web address. Ensure they are accurate and valid for a minimum of 60 days after sending the message.
What Can You Do Today to Get Ready for CASL?
Go through your current contact list.
Make sure you can demonstrate consent for every CEM recipient.
Have a system in place so you can unsubscribe requests right away.
Sign up for legislation updates on CASL.
Search for additional online resources such as this CASL Survival Guild by Elite Mail.
Consider speaking to an expert to ensure your electronic messaging is in compliance.
Finally, if you are the recipient of spam you can report it to the Spam Reporting Centre once the legislation is in force.