As of July 1st, 2014, Canada’s Anti Spam Law (also known as CASL) is cracking down on email SPAM. No one likes to get the random (and often times inappropriate) junk mail that filters into our inboxes on a daily basis. The new regulation was implemented to help eliminate unwanted email marketing such as this, as well as to ensure that everyone (individuals, incorporated and unincorporated businesses, not-for-profit organizations, etc.) who send electronic messages for commercial purposes are receiving consent to distribute email communications. Penalties for non-compliance can range from 0-$1 million for individuals, and 0-$10 million for corporations – this is not to be taken lightly.
All this being said, two questions come to mind – what qualifies as a commercial electronic message and what can you do to ensure you are compliant.
To see the techie definition of a commercial electronic message – see the definition at the bottom of this post but more importantly – here’s what you should be doing to comply – TODAY!!!
- Obtain Consent from everyone on your list. There are various ways to achieve this but a simple form requesting an email address and an opt-in checkbox confirming consent for future communications is probably your best bet.
- Keep a Record. Once you have received consent from your email subscribers, make sure you save these consents some way (electronically or hard copy) so that if a complaint is ever made you have proof of consent.
- Ensure You Provide Business Information in your CEM’s. This can be as simple as including your business address and contact info the footer of your emails on an ongoing basis.
- Provide an Unsubscribe Option. Yes, you’ve already got consent but moving forward someone may not want to hear from you and without this little link you could end up with a complaint and ultimately a fine. It’s always better to get an unsubscribe then someone complaining/marking your emails as spam. Why waste good advertising dollars sending information to those who don’t want it or have no interest or intention of buying from you.
- Be Informed of the New Regulations. If possible, designate a team member or someone within the company to be in charge of monitoring and informing the rest of the staff about the new regulations. Asking questions is always better than assuming and having a teammate to filter these questions and provide insight will help you in the long run with your electronic communications.
These tips can help you to organize your email lists and continue to send successfully within the new regulations. The unfortunate aspect about all the time and effort that will be placed into making sure Canadians are compliant with all their CEM’s is that this new regulations do not apply outside of Canada. So, all of our inboxes may still be cluttered with junk email from companies outside of Canada. More than 1,000 complaints have been filed since the new anti-spam law took effect July 1st.
For more information regarding CASL, visit fightspam.gc.ca/
Commercial Electronic Message (defined): is an electronic message that, having regard to the content of the message, the hyperlinks in the message to content on the website or other database, or the contact information contained in the message, it would be reasonable to conclude has as its purpose, or one of its purposes, to encourage participation in a commercial activity, including an electronic message that
- includes offers to purchase, sell, barter, or lease a product, goods, a service, land or an interest or right in land;
- offers or advertises or promotes provision of a business, investment or gaming opportunity;
- or promotes a person, including the public image of a person, as being a person who does anything just mentioned or who intends to do so.