Canada's New Anti-Spam Law

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Anti spam lawIn July 2014, Canada's new anti-spam law, called CASL, will come into operation. It is regarded as one of the strictest in the world.

  • Businesses will now be allowed to send promotional communication, like email, only if an individual has consented to receiving it. In contrast, in the United States businesses are permitted to send them until an individual opts out of receiving them.

  • CASL applies to all electronic messages, including email, text, voice, and image messages. It excludes communication that the government considers as two-way, under which it interestingly names faxes and voice messages sent to telephone accounts as two way (Gratton, 2014).

  • CASL allows promotional communication where a business relationship already exists between sender and receiver, such as the receiver's having purchased something from the sender in the previous two years.

  • Messages with warranty or safety information are permitted.

  • Fund-raising messages by registered charities are permitted.

  • Every message should contain an opt-out message that remains active for at least 60 days.

  • Every message should contain the sender's mail address and either a phone number or an email address.

  • CASL rules and fines apply to both businesses inside and outside Canadian legal jurisdiction. U.S. anti-spam legislation is mum on violators from abroad.

  • CEOs, directors or employers can be liable if their employees' jobs require that they violate these rules.

  • There is a maximum fine of $1 million for an individual and $10 million for any other type of institution (Gratton & Groom, 2014).

What does this mean for consumers?

  • No more unwelcome promotional messages from businesses with which one has no relationship.

  • Fewer fraudulent emails that try to trick one into spending money.

  • Fewer great discounts or less information of products that one may find useful.

What does this mean for businesses?

  • They must ask for consent on their websites, for example.

  • They must email all Canadians currently on their list and request consent, and they have to do this before July when such mail will become illegal.

  • They must keep a time-sensitive mailing list that removes buyers from the database after two years.

  • They must ensure that all third-parties with whom they deal with are compliant so they do not acquire problematic mailing lists or advertising behaviour.