Anti-Spam Legislation: What You Need To Know

The new Canada anti-spam legislation (the “CASL”) regulates how businesses use electronic messages, such as email and voice messages, to contact their clients, prospective clients, and other people they do business with. CASL took effect on July 1, 2014.

What does CASL regulate? The goal of CASL is to decrease and eliminate all the unwanted electronic messages we receive.

What kind of Messages apply? CASL applies to electronic messages, which have as one of their purposes, the encouragement to participate in a commercial activity.

What kinds of Messages are exempt? CASL does not apply to electronic messages sent to someone with whom you have a personal or family relationship (both terms have definitions in CASL). CASL also doesn’t apply when you send an electronic message to someone about the commercial activity they’re involved in, if the message is solely an inquiry or application about that activity. Messages sent by registered charities are exempt if the message’s primary purpose is about raising funds for that charity.

What information does CASL require in a Message? CASL requires detailed information to be included in an electronic message, such as the contact particulars of the sender of the electronic message, and requires such information to be presented in particular ways. For example: an email must contain an unsubscribe mechanism  clearly and prominently, and the recipient of the email must be able to indicate at no cost that they no longer wish to receive any more emails.

How can I establish that a person consents? A person may consent to receiving your message through either  implied or  express consent. In order to find that such consent has been received, you must satisfy many detailed provisions of CASL. To give you an idea of what CASL is looking for to establish  implied consent, the law wants to see that the sender of the electronic message has an existing business relationship or an existing nonbusiness relationship with the recipient (both types of relationships are defined in CASL). For  express consent, CASL requires that the person whose consent is sought is notified that they can withdraw their consent at any time.

What If I Don’t Comply? CASL is complicated and broad, making it difficult to understand. And it carries a very big stick if you don’t follow it: penalties of up to $1 million for individuals, and $10 million for Businesses! That factor alone should get your attention. If you would like more information about complying with CASL, and how it may affect you, please contact us today.