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Canadian Anti Spam Legislation (CASL)

The brand new Canadian Anti Spam Legislation (CASL) will come into force as of July 1, 2014. According to the federal government “once the law is in force, it will help to protect Canadians while ensuring that businesses can continue to compete in the global marketplace.” This is a very broad piece of legislation that has a major impact on the way that we as businesses and marketers are allowed to contact leads, clients, and other contacts via email, text message, or other electronic means in Canada.

Legislation Fast Facts

I have looked at dozens of websites trying to find a good summary of what CASL really means to small business owners in Calgary. The federal government has a decent site with a lot of information and the actual text of the law, but there isn’t a great summary that explains in simple terms what the act really means. They do have a “Fast Facts” section that you might find somewhat useful:

Fast Facts – Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation

What You Need to Know about CASL

I also found the following presentation that was published by Canadian law firm Miller Thomson that is a very informative. There is also a PDF copy of the slides that they present and a one page “what you need to know” document that is a quick and easy read:

Getting Ready for Canada's Anti-spam Legislation (Video Presentation)
Getting Ready for Canada’s Anti-spam Legislation (Presentation Slides)
What you Need to Know about CASL Compliance (One Page Summary)

My Take on CASL and its Impact on a Typical Small Businesses

Obviously I’m not a lawyer, but here are a couple of key points that I have learned by reading many sources of information about CASL:

  • We now need to have Express or Implied consent in order to add people to our mailing lists
  • Express consent means that they have chosen to “Opt-In” to your list. This can be verbally or in writing.
  • There are lots of ways that Implied consent applies
    • you have an existing business relationship (ie they bought something from you or signed a contract with you) within the last 2 years
    • they inquired about your goods or services within the last 6 months
    • they have “conspicuously published” their email address AND your message is relevant to the recipient’s business role
  • There are other exemptions for charities and politicians (and more) to be able to send email without other consent
  • You must provide an obvious and easy way to “Opt-Out” from the list

Basically, if you were already following the US CAN-SPAM rules then you are probably in pretty good shape. The major difference seems to be the timeline within which you must remove people from your contact list if they haven’t extended their Opt-In consent beyond the statutory expiry dates.

In plain English, that means that every once in awhile you must contact the people on your list and ask if they still want to be on your list…

NOTE – I want to be totally clear that there is a lot more to this legislation than I have touched upon here. I have already said that I am not a lawyer and I have not extensively studied the bill. It’s up to you to ensure that you know what your responsibilities are and how to comply with the legislation.

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