Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation: What You Need to Know

Caitlin McElwain

Digital legislation is evolving rapidly, and the Canadian anti-spam legislation that will be in effect starting July 1, 2014, could change the way you communicate with your customers. The purpose of Canada’s anti-spam legislation (CASL) is to encourage the development of businesses’ e-commerce by ensuring confidence and trust in the online marketplace. CASL has been implemented to protect businesses and consumers from unsolicited commercial electronic messages (CEMs), also known as spam. 

As of July 1, 2014, businesses and consumers will need recipients’ express consent to send CEMs, unless one of the law’s exemptions applies. You can get additional information about CASL regulations and its exemptions by visiting the Government of Canada’s website.

How to get valid consent to comply with CASL

  • Consent must be expressed: your CEM recipients must actively agree to receive your electronic communications.
  • Consent can be oral or in writing: you can obtain consent the next time you meet with potential clients in person or on the phone. You can also get consent through email communication before July 1, 2014. Make sure you document the process and have evidence to prove you obtained the consent validly.
  • Consent request must be clear: the message to obtain recipients’ consents must clearly explain the purpose for which it is being requested.

Express consent is required to send CEMs unless:

  • One of the law’s exemptions applies.
  • There is implied consent.

You’ll be deemed to have received implied consent if: 

  • You have a business relationship with the recipient that has been active in the two years preceding the sending of the CEM.
  • You have received an inquiry for a business quote within the last six months.
  • The recipient has provided or published his electronic address without any restriction, and the CEM relates to the recipient’s business.

Electronic marketing is evolving at a fast pace and is a powerful marketing tool to develop a new client base and build loyalty toward your brand. As a company, you might already have an entire database of subscribers who have agreed to receive information and promotions about your business. In order to maintain your reach and be in line with CASL, we strongly encourage you to determine if the electronic addresses your company gathered previously can be used after July 1, 2014, and to ensure that all future electronic communications are compliant with CASL. Furthermore, you should maintain a record of each consent you obtain. 

We also invite you to take a look at the mandatory content requirements for CEMs set out by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). 

The foregoing provides only an overview and does not constitute legal advice. Readers are cautioned against making any decisions based on this material alone. Rather, we strongly advise you to obtain specific legal advice.

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