Could Your Business Handle a $10 Million Fine?

June 12, 2014

As of July 1, 2014, Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) will come into effect. New rules about how individuals and businesses communicate and collect information from others will be enforced. BBB explains what exactly will be changed and how businesses will be affected.

What is changing?

  • The sending of commercial electronic messages (CEMs)
  • The installation of computer programs
  • The alteration of transmission data in an electronic message

All individuals and businesses that use email, social media or text messaging as marketing and communications tools are required to follow the CASL rules. The financial penalties for failing to meet the CASL requirements are up to $1 million for individuals and up to $10 million for businesses.

Ric Borski, president and CEO of BBB Serving Central Ontario, says even though new legislation requires substantial preparation, the benefits will be worthwhile. “The CASL requirements will help promote an ethical and trustworthy marketplace,” he says. “Obtaining proper consent and honestly representing products and services paves a smooth road to marketplace trust.”

So, what exactly does this mean?

This new law will prohibit:

  • Sending messages without permission. Sending of CEMs without the recipient's permission, including emails and messages to social networking accounts and text messages
  • Delivering data to a different destination than the original, intended address. 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)
  • Installing software without consent. Installation of computer programs without the express consent of the owner of the computer system or its agent, such as an authorized employee
  • False advertising. Use of false or misleading representation in the online promotion of products or services
  • Illegal collection of data. Collection of personal information through accessing a computer system in violation of federal law (e.g. the Criminal Code of Canada)
  • Address harvesting. Collection of electronic addresses by the use of computer programs or the use of such addresses, without permission

BBB recommends the following tips when preparing yourself or your business for the implementation of CASL:

  • Review the legislation in detail. Visit for an in-depth look at the CASL and its implementations.
  • 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?
  • Get consent. Do you have proper consent for the people you are currently sending information to? For the people you plan to send future messages, to do you have the proper systems in place to acquire consent? Anyone you are sending a CEM to must have agreed to receive such communications from you.
  • Include an “unsubscribe” option. Make sure it is easy for people to unsubscribe or opt-out of receiving CEMs from you or your business.
  • 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.
  • Make sure everyone understands. 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

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has released a video presentation detailing CASL information sessions, which have been hosted across the country for the past six months. The presentation provides information on enforcement, regulations, and guidance related to CASL. The presentation can be found on the CRTC's website.