On July 1, 2014 Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) will come into effect enforcing new rules about the sending of commercial electronic messages (CEM’s), the installation of computer programs and the alteration of transmission data in an electronic message.
This new law will prohibit the:
- Sending of commercial electronic messages without the recipient's consent (permission), including messages to email addresses and social networking accounts, and text messages sent to a cell phone;
- Alteration of transmission data in an electronic message, which results in the message being delivered to a different destination without express consent. (A process common in phishing scams);
- Installation of computer programs without the express consent of the owner of the computer system or its agent, such as an authorized employee;
- Use of false or misleading representations online in the promotion of products or services;
- Collection of personal information through accessing a computer system in violation of federal law (e.g. the Criminal Code of Canada); and
- Collection of electronic addresses by the use of computer programs or the use of such addresses, without permission (address harvesting).
This new law will impact everyone. Individuals, incorporated and unincorporated businesses and not-for-profit organizations need to review how they are sending electronic messages for commercial purposes.
Under the new CASL obtaining express or implied consent before sending a CEM is key. And you can’t send an electronic message (as your first point of contact) to request consent. This new law also requires that you must be able to prove you have consent.
When obtaining consent you must:
- Be clear in your explanation of the purposes for which you are obtaining consent;
- Identify who is requesting consent;
- Provide your contact information; and
- Indicate that the person you are seeking consent from can unsubscribe at anytime.
Every CEM must also contain:
- The name of the person, business or organization sending the message;
- Contact information of the sender; and
- A way for the receiver to easily unsubscribe from receiving future CEM’s at no cost to them.
The financial penalties for failing to meet the CASL requirements are up to $1 million for individuals and up to $10 million for corporations.
If you haven’t already you should start getting prepared now for the new legislation.
- Start by checking out the new legislation and relevant FAQ’s. Visit: http://fightspam.gc.ca for more information.
- Review your processes for sending out emails, text messages and social media posts. Who are you sending messages to? Do any of your messages encourage participation in a commercial activity such as buying a product or service, taking part in a workshop or class or becoming a paying member? If they do, you will need to make sure you following CASL.
- For the people you currently send messages to, have you acquired the proper consent? For the people you plan to send future messages to do you have the proper systems in place to acquire consent? You may need to review and revise your current mailing lists, customer forms, contracts, applications, and online processes to properly achieve consent. Anyone you are sending a CEM to must have agreed to receive such communications from you. Make sure you are keeping and safely storing your consent records.
- Do you have the systems in place for people to easily unsubscribe or opt-out of receiving CEM’s from you?
- Carefully review your recent and future CEM’s to make sure you are not unintentionally being misleading in the representation of your products or services. If you are a BBB Accredited Business be sure to review our BBB Code of Advertising.
- Ensure ALL of your staff understand the requirements of the new legislation and are properly trained to follow new procedures.
- Stay informed. You can sign up for updates related to CASL at: http://fightspam.gc.ca.