Surviving CASL

Posted on July 08, 2014

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Starting July 1 Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation went into effect.  CASL, as it is affectionately know, aims to stop the spread of spam in the online world.  It is a complex piece of legislation and even if you think it’s unfair, it’s crucial to have an understanding to protect yourself and your organization from potential litigation.  This article is intended to be a review and also provide tips of action moving forward.
 
What’s CASL?
CASL’s impact is far reaching and will change the way electronic messages are sent all across the country.  Specifically, the legislation is concerned with Commercial Electronic Messages (CEMs) that are sent to or from Canada.  CEMs include texts, emails, and social media messages (not posts).

In a nutshell, any electronic message content that could be considered commercial, promotional, or marketing, has a link to a website, or has a signature block referring to your organization is a Commercial Electronic Message.  In order to send CEMs you must adhere to these three requirements:
  • Consent from the recipient (opt-in rather than opt out)
  • Information requirements (clearly identify the sender's contact information and inform the recipient of the right to unsubscribe)
  • Unsubscribe mechanism (must clear and occur within 10 days of request)
How do I survive in this anti-spam world?
Now, I know what you are thinking: I missed the cut off; CASL is in effect and I cannot send emails to my contacts asking for consent (because that would be considered spam). Well, that’s not exactly true. There is currently a 36-month transitional period, starting July 1, 2014, which allows you to continue to communicate with people with whom you have had an existing relationship. This means if your relationship previously included the exchange of CEMs and they haven’t told you to stop, you can continue to send them messages. Over this 36-month transitional period however, it is your duty to obtain their expressed consent for the future and record it on file.  Implied consent is only good for the three-year transitional period.
 
Above all, CASL still applies to all new contacts you may reach out to or those that want to reach out to you. In any case, we have compiled a few tips to ensure you can continue to operate just as you always have.  The tips are:
  • Post your email address on your website; this is considered implied consent and allows organizations to contact you without having to obtain consent.
  • Add a link to your email signature block or on your website that allows existing clients and/or prospective clients to sign up for electronic communications. As a reminder, the transition period is only 36 months; it is better to get them on the list while the issue is fresh in their mind.
Just to wrap up - CASL applies to everyone including individuals, not-for-profits, and corporations; anyone who sends messages for commercial purposes.  Just because you are not a spammer, does not mean the law doesn’t apply to you. It applies to any content that could be considered commercial.  Make sure you have a good understanding of CASL for the future.
 
This article is by no means a comprehensive resource for understanding Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation. For more information, please visit the following websites: