Lyris Connections Blog

Updates on Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL)

Dec 19, 2013 by

Back in 2004, Canada formed a Federal Task Force on Spam and it has been working on legislation and changes on spam policies for close to 10 years. With approval from Treasury Board of Canada President Tony Clement on November 28 of this year, new Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) was approved and the final regulations were published on December 18.

Canadian Maple Leaf

My colleague Evan Burke, Lyris’ global head of deliverability, provided a preview of the legislation back in November of 2012 in this blog: Deliverability Update: Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL). And while the law is not going to be in force until July 1, 2014, I want to make you aware that there are some major changes and enforcement policies that need to be considered when sending to or from Canadian email addresses, primarily focusing on email and mobile communications. It’s appropriate to understand the policies and how they will be enforced so you can prepare and abide by CASL rather than unknowingly breach the new regulations.

There will be a few more updates and deeper interpretations of how marketers will need to follow CASL legislation, but we do have the basic outlines that will help you prepare for its implementation:

  • You are required to obtain consent from recipients to send commercial electronic messages to their email accounts (of all varieties, including social media) and text message transmissions to mobile phones. This is not much of a change from all email best practices, but it will now be enforced. So if you do not have permission to send to Canada-based subscribers, you are potentially violating this condition of CASL legislation, which may result in legal action and fines.
  • You must also be clear upon sign-up as to what subscribers are signing up for: how frequently they will receive messages related to the sign-up, your privacy policy and data protection notices, and how to opt out of future mailings.
  • You must have records of consent for all individuals on your mailing lists. Email addresses cannot be collected through programs or bots that harvest addresses or obtained through any unconfirmed manner like list rentals and purchases.

While the law may intend to apply to companies outside of Canada, it’s not clear what the level of interest will be for U.S. agencies responsible for enforcement on this side of the border – the same is likely true internationally as well. So while there may be limited effective enforcement on the criminal side, there may be broader implications on the civil side (under private right-of-action). Further details on this will likely be determined in courts after the law is fully in effect.

Stay tuned for more information on CASL and how it impacts email marketers. Lyris will provide a compliance guide/checklist for our customers early next year, with more specific details. In the meantime, here are a couple of other resources you can use to learn more:

Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation: About the Law

Canada’s Anti-Spam Law Coming into Force July 01, 2014

We’re not lawyers, and this isn’t legal advice – it’s just our layman’s understanding of the law. We recommend seeking the advice of a qualified legal practitioner if you are seeking legal guidance.

Matt Strzelecki

About the Author: Matt Strzelecki

Matt Strzelecki is Sr. Deliverability Analyst at Lyris and has more than five years of experience helping clients improve their email marketing programs through use of industry best practices and delivery analysis. Particular areas of Matt’s expertise include growing relationships with ISPs and other email services partners, list segmentation validation, abuse feedback processing, and bounce management.

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