New law affecting email communications starts July 1st. Will your organization be compliant?

By Email marketing

Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) comes into effect in only a few weeks on Canada Day. Among other IT related activities, the legislation prohibits sending commercial electronic messages (CEMs) to an electronic address without the recipient’s prior consent.

This post is intended only to contribute to awareness of the new legislation. Check out the links at the bottom of this page for in-depth information that will help you address your organization’s electronic marketing practices.

Many businesses and other organizations have followed email best practices that met the United States’ CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act) laws. There are important differences to be aware of to ensure compliance.

Applies to messages sent or received in Canada Does not apply to messages sent or received outside of the US
Applies to commercial messages sent to “electronic addresses” which include:

  • ŸEmail addresses
  • ŸTelephone accounts (text messages)
  • ŸInstant messaging accounts
  • Other similar accounts (this could potentially include social media messaging systems)
Applies only to email messages
Requires recipients receive only the electronic messages they have opted in to receive (and also have the ability to easily opt out) Requires only that recipients have the right and ability to opt out of future email messages
Fines up to $10 million per violation Fines up to $16,000 per violation

Commercial electronic message
An email or other electronic message is classified as commercial when at least one of its purposes is to encourage the recipient to take part in a commercial activity. For example:

  • Offering to buy or  sell a product or service
  • Advertising or promoting a product or service
  • Promoting a person who buys or sells products or services

Compliant content
The electronic message must include all of the following:

  • ŸIdentify your organization as the sender
  • ŸInclude your mailing address and one other means of contacting you
  • ŸClear and easy unsubscribe mechanism

Obtaining recipients’ consent
There are two types of consent:

  1. Express consent
    Either written (on paper or electronically) or verbal, the recipient has given their direct consent.
  1. Implied consent
    The recipient has provided their electronic address directly.
    The message is relevant to the recipient’s role or business capacity.
    The recipient has never requested not to receive messages.Consent could also implied if there is an existing business or non-business relationship with the person. In the event of a complaint, compliance would be determined on a case-by-case basis.

What about business cards?
Receiving someone’s business card could be interpreted as implied consent to send a CEM. But to minimize the potential for complaints, it would be wise to obtain express consent when the person gives you the card; and making a detailed note of the consent for your records.

Recording consent
In the event that a spam complaint is made, the onus will be on the organization to prove that consent was given. Maintaining detailed records will be imperative to protect organizations against spam complaints.  Information to record includes:

  • Ÿ  Was consent received in writing or verbally,
  • Ÿ  When consent was received,
  • Ÿ  Why it was obtained, and
  • Ÿ  How it was obtained, (e.g. where, such as a specific tradeshow booth or networking event).

In-depth information on CASL

Information on this website is not legal advice and should not be taken as such. Please consult your attorney or other professional legal services provider regarding your organization’s email marketing policies and procedures to ensure compliance with CASL.