GET READY FOR CANADA’S NEW ANTI-SPAM LEGISLATIONJul 6 2014
If you subscribe to electronic newsletters or have been following the news lately, you’ve probably heard about the Government of Canada’s new legislation to reduce the amount of spam we receive via electronic communications. Canada’s new Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) has repercussions not only for those of us who receive electronic communications but also for organizations that do business in Canada.
CASL in Brief
The new federal law restricts how organizations can contact you via electronic communications, such as email, text messages and social networking messages.
While the law applies to the kinds of messages we typically think of as “spam,” such as messages that are designed to mislead recipients or contain computer viruses, it also applies to promotional messages sent by legitimate businesses. In fact, the law applies to all Canadian and global organizations that send commercial electronic messages within, from or to Canada.
Penalties for non-compliance can be severe and may include criminal and civil charges, as well as personal liability for company officers and directors. Financial penalties can be as high $10 million.
While the law is being rolled out in stages, the anti-spam provisions went into effect on July 1. That’s why you likely received a barrage of emails from organizations asking for your express consent to keep you on their email distribution lists.
How the Rules Have Changed
CASL is much more stringent that previous anti-spam laws. Before, organizations were permitted to send you commercial messages under implied consent. They simply had to provide you with an option to opt out of future communications. Under the new law, organizations will usually need to get your express consent. Implied consent is only sufficient in certain circumstances, such as when you and the sender have an existing relationship.
In addition, the previous legislation allowed organizations to add you to their lists by pre-checking a box for you. Now, you must indicate consent by checking a box or typing in your email address.
Interestingly, Canada’s new anti-spam law is more strict than anti-spam laws in many other countries. For example, in the U.S., organizations can send promotional messages without permission until the recipient opts out.
What Does the Future Hold?
It’s too early to say how successful CASL will be in decreasing the amount of spam you receive. It’s also too early to determine how great an impact the law will have on organizations and businesses that rely on electronic messaging to reach prospects and customers.
It’s clear, however, that if you’re part of an organization that uses electronic messaging to reach people, you need to quickly get up to speed on the new legislation and take the necessary steps to comply.