Understanding Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation

As of June 1st, 2017, the transitional period for commercial electronic messages ended and the three-year mandatory review for CASL is in effect. All Commercial Electronic Messages (CEMs) sent to or from Canada are under CASL jurisdiction. This is notable because CASL is one of the toughest laws for email marketers of its kind and effects how email marketers will gather leads and retain them.

What is CASL?

CASL is Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation which establishes rules for the sending of Commercial Electronic Messages (CEMs). It also prohibits the unauthorized alteration of transmission data. It requires that a certain level of consent (either Express or Implied) be obtained and maintained between consumers and businesses when sending CEMs. CASL has created guidelines for organizations to have clear, intentional permission to communicate with individuals via email and other CEMs. This would, in turn, grant individuals more freedom over their own inbox. It would also reduce the amount of spam circulating through inboxes around the world.

Does CASL affect me?

CASL applies to all CEMs that are sent from or to Canadians. However, this means that even if you are a business based outside of Canada, CASL regulations apply to the emails you send to Canadians.

Complying with CASL

There are three primary guidelines to be aware of when ensuring compliance.

  1. You may only send emails to people who have given you express or implied consent to contact them.
  2. Organizations that send messages must identify the sender(s) and provide contact information.
  3. The unsubscribe option must be clear, able to be readily performed and accomplished at no cost to the customer.
  4. After an individual unsubscribes from receiving emails, an organization has 10 days to cancel all communications between the organization and the individual.

Requirements for Express Consent (Hard opt-ins)

When acquiring Express consent from an email subscriber, your Page/Form must include:

  1. Company postal address & either phone number OR web address OR email address
  2. A link to the company Privacy Policy
  3. A statement indicating that a recipient can unsubscribe at any time

Do you need to have Express consent to send a CEM?

Short Answer: No.

Requirements for Implied Consent (Soft opt-ins)

Consider the context of a pre-existing business or non-business relationship or if recipients clearly publish their electronic contact information or voluntarily disclose it without clearly indicating they don’t want to receive communications. In these contexts, express consent is not necessary.

However, Implied consent is generally time-limited. It is typically a period of 2 years after the event that starts the relationship. If the event is a business transaction, the 2-year period starts from the date of the most recent transaction. For subscriptions or memberships, the period starts on the day the relationship ends.

What if you don’t comply with CASL?

Organizations that don’t comply could risk severe consequences including, but not limited to criminal charges, civil charges, personal liability for company officers and directors, and penalties up to 10 million dollars.

Where does Ascent360 fit in?

As a service that enables highly targeted, omnichannel marketing strategies direct to customers and prospects, it is important to us that you understand your relationship with your customers. CASL compliance may seem like a major roadblock if it affects your business. Don’t worry, it can be easily overcome. Ascent 360 helps provide you with relevant customer data. This data will allow you to build stronger marketing strategies and help you stay CASL compliant.

If you are unsure who on your list is from Canada, Ascent360 can identify Canadian email addresses in your database along with hard and soft opt-ins. We also identify continuously updated opt-in dates associated with each individual email address. Have questions about best practices with this new law in place? Please reach out to your Account Manager who can dive more into detail with you. 

*Please note: Ascent360 is not providing legal advice. You should contact an attorney if you desire to ensure your marketing efforts comply.

If you want to learn more about CASL check out http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/internet/anti.htm