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What You Need To Know About Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation

Samantha Orr

New laws go into effect July 1st, 2014

Canada’s updated anti-spam legislation went into effect on July 1, 2014. Find out how these new laws will affect email marketing in Canada and what you need to do to be compliant.


What is CASL?

CASL stands for Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation. The core goals of CASL sanction what we’ve known to be email marketing best practices for years. Now, more than ever, you will need to have ‘express’ consent from your subscribers with proof of the consent. Failure to have or show valid consent will result in a fine up to $10 million dollars. With the stakes so high, we want to make sure you know everything you need to navigate the new laws.

These laws apply to any email marketers sending email to Canadian addresses or subscribers who reside in Canada. Even if you are not sending in Canada, you need to be mindful of CASL and follow all the rules.


What types of messages apply to CASL?

All commercial electronic messages are regulated by CASL. This includes any email, SMS, and instant messages sent to an electronic address for the purposes of business or commercial activity. Broadcast messages are excluded, such as those on television, radio, Internet display ads, mobile app push notifications, LinkedIn messages, and Facebook and Twitter organization posts.


Are there exemptions?

There are a number of exempt situations. If you think you may meet some of the exempt criteria, we strongly recommend meeting with your legal counsel before making any attempts at communication with subscribers where the exemption may apply.

  • Fax messages
  • Implied consent such as opt-ins acquired by a business relationship started as part of a purchase made in the last two years or a follow up inquiry on a purchase made in the last six months
  • Conspicuously posted email address where there is no message stating not to use the email
  • Internal Communications (either between friends and family or within a business
  • Charities
  • Political candidates
  • Banking institutions
  • Accessing mail outside Canada with a Canadian address is exempt because it is not in the country where the law applies


How can you prepare for CASL?


1. Understand email best practices.


2. Check your current subscriber lists. Were any subscribers acquired in the following ways?

  • Purchasing lists
  • Appending
  • Harvesting from emails, websites, or social sites where there was a note posted not to use the email

If so, we recommend removing these addresses from your lists or obtain clear consent before July 1, 2014. You must have a record of consent for every subscriber on your list.


3. Review your opt-in process. Ensure you have:

  • Express consent (no pre-checked boxes or radio buttons pre-selected)
  • Clear messaging about your email program
  • Make sure you are keeping records of consent.


Thanks for reading up on CASL! Be sure to review these changes with your team and remember you can always check with us if you have questions.