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What Canada’s new anti-spam law means to you

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On December 4, Industry Canada released final regulations under Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL), setting out early compliance deadlines.

As of July 1, 2014, CASL will require businesses to obtain either express “opt-in” or implied consent to send commercial electronic messages (CEMs), including emails and certain types of social media messages. Pre-toggled or pre-checked in boxes will not be allowed. In addition, all electronic marketing messages will need to clearly and prominently identify the sender, include the sender’s contact information and provide an unsubscribe mechanism, unless fully exempted from the Act.

Serious penalties
Organizations that don’t comply with CASL risk serious penalties, including criminal charges, civil charges, personal liability for company officers and directors, and penalties up to $10 million.

CASL will be enforced in three stages:

  • The anti-spam provisions will take effect on July 1, 2014, giving businesses mere months to inventory their electronic marketing practices, align these practices with CASL and implement changes to their business processes and CRM systems
  • The provisions relating to the unsolicited installation of computer programs or software will come into force on January 15, 2015
  • The private right of action will be enforced as of July 1, 2017

New electronic commerce protection regulations
Among other things, the new Industry Canada regulations:

  • Clarified the types of CEMs that are fully exempt from CASL
  • Introduced five new full exemptions from CASL
  • Explained how to share contact lists with “unknown third parties”
  • Retained the partial exemption for third-party referral messages

Detailed information about the new electronic commerce protection regulations can be found in these FAQs.

Transitional period
Businesses have a three year grace period after July 1, 2014 to verify and confirm consent to send CEMs, but can still only communicate with recipients with whom they have an existing business relationship.

Fortunately, any express consents you get before CASL comes into force will be recognized as compliant with CASL.

Given the looming deadline, it is essential for businesses to assess their CASL readiness and develop a compliance strategy.

Learn more about:

For a closer look at the requirements set out by CASL, read Managing the message: Canada’s new anti-spam law sets a high bar. Detailed information about the new electronic commerce protection regulations are also outlined in this FAQ and in Managing the message: Businesses brace for new digital marketing compliance requirements.

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