New ANTI-Spam Legislation may catch you off guard

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Effective July 1st, 2014 – New Anti-Spam Legislation will affect any business that promotes their products and services electronically via email, social media or instant messaging.

On July 1st 2014, Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL) enters into force. This new legislation will affect any business that promotes their products/services electronically via email, social media or instant messaging.

How does it affect my business?
CASL targets any electronic communication that could be considered to “encourage participation in a commercial activity.” Any email, text message, instant message (IM) and messages sent through social networks that have a commercial aspect will be considered to be a Commercial Electronic Message (CEM), and will require express orimplied consent.

Obtain Consent NOW – before July 1, 2014!
Your business needs to obtain express or implied consent from your electronic mailing lists in order to continue to send electronic messages.

Express consent means that someone has given your business their approval verbally or in writing to receive emails from you, but the onus is on the sender (i.e. the business owner) to prove you have consent. Consent obtained before the July 1st, 2014 will be considered valid. Therefore, it’s worth proactively contacting your mailing lists now to obtain their consent since as of July 1st this type of email will be considered spam (if you do not have the recipient’s consent on file).

Implied consent means you have a personal or family relationship with someone, or an existing business or non-business relationship. It also includes situations where someone displays their email address on a website without a notice that they do not wish to receive solicitations.

  • An existing business relationship means that you have done some sort of business transaction with the recipient of the email over the past two years.
  • An existing non-business relationship can stem from many things, such as membership in a club, volunteer work, etc.


How do I prepare my business?

1) Review your current mailing list. Assess whether you have implied consent from your clients and if you can rely on it under the new legislation. If you rely on implied consent, then you will need to create a system to alert you when the implied consent period has lapsed. If you do not have implied consent, you will need express consent.

2) Develop a records system to keep updated lists of those who have given you consent to send electronic messages and a list of those who have not.

3) All electronic messages MUST include:

  • Specific information that identifies the sender, such as mailing address, phone and email information or website address, etc.
  • An unsubscribe option that allows the recipient to stop receiving your emails and meets the requirements within the legislation. Unsubscribed recipients must be removed from your mailing list within 10 business days of their opt-out.

4) Educate your staff on the new legislation so they are aware of and comply with the new rules.


Do you use referrals in your business?

This legislation affects how you contact referrals. After July 1, 2014, you will only be allowed to send a single message to a prospective client. This message must include the full name of the individual who gave you the referral, and the identification and unsubscribe requirements mentioned above.

What else do I need to know?

There are a lot of other clauses in CASL that could have important impacts on your business. For example:

  • if your company installs computer software remotely,
  • if you have an e-newsletter or use promotional/contest emails;
  • if you use email lists from third parties; etc

All these situations will require expert advice.


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