What Canada’s New Spam Laws Mean For Marketers

If you or your company are sending any commercial electronic messages to or from Canada, it’s in your best interest to research and follow the new CASL.

Canada’s new anti-spam law, known as Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (Bill C-28) or CASL for short, was enacted in December of 2010 and is slated to enter into force shortly – as soon as the first few months of 2012. The CASL intends to support e-commerce by deterring spam, spyware, identity theft, and more by enforcing higher consent strategies and strict monetary penalties.

What is the CASL?canada-anti-spam-law-bill-c-28-300x300

The CASL is Canada’s new anti-spam law, which mandates that consumers must opt-in to all e-mail marketing. The law applies to all Commercial Electronic Messages, an overriding term for SMS text, instant messaging, e-mail and all forms of digital communication, where either the sender or the receiver is located in Canada. The CASL also prohibits the installation of Online Behavioral Advertising tracking devices without consent.

How is the new CASL different from other anti-spam laws?

CASL may have one of the broadest scopes of any anti-spam law in the world. The new CASL mandates an opt-in system to e-mail marketing, which is different from PIPEDA (Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act), a primarily a content-based system and US CAN-SPAM Act, a primarily e-mail opt-out system. Also, the CASL has higher penalties for infringement – up to $10 million for companies and $1 millions for individuals.

What does this mean for me?

Appoint someone within your company to take ownership of the new CASL to make sure your company is compliant with the new legislation. Otherwise, you could end up making a very costly mistake.

Also consider:

  • Reviewing your e-mailing lists to ensure all consumers have given either expressed or implied consent to be on your list. Make sure you keep records of the consent. Proof of consent is helpful if a complaint is made about a commercial electronic message.
  • Using an opt-in or double opt-in method for obtaining contact information for subscribers who wish to be added to your electronic mailing list.
  • Making sure the content in your e-mail campaign is targeted, timely and relevant to your subscribers. (This should be the case will all e-mail marketing campaigns!)
  • Providing your e-mail recipients an easy, clearly visible opt-out option.

(As one can imagine, there are many different regulations, limitations, exemptions, requirements and penalties under the CASL. It’s wise to consult legal council for any and all questions related to the new legislation.)

Since the new legislation gives more power to the consumer – whereas, the consumer is able to opt-in to whom they wish to hear from – do you think this will force marketers and businesses to create more relevant and quality content?