According to the Canadian Governments website, Fight Spam, Canada’s anti-spam legislation (CASL) was put in place to protect Canadians while ensuring that businesses can continue to compete in the global marketplace.
The law came into effect on July 1, 2014.
As a Canadian operating a business in Canada, it is your duty to understand and comply with the law.
The law applies to Commercial Electronic Messages, also referred to as CEMs. A CEM is a message that encourages customers or prospects to participate in a commercial activity. A commercial activity includes but is not limited to the following: offering, advertising or promoting a product, service or a person. Click here to see an example.
Consent is the permission for something to happen or an agreement to do something. You are required to have some type of consent from your customers / prospects.
There are 2 types of consent: Express consent and Implied consent
Existing business relationship
There is an existing business relationship
Between you (the sender) and your customer / prospect (the recipient). The recipient has placed an order or enquired about one of your products. There is a record of your company dealing with the customer / prospect either in the form of a contract, purchase order, email or phone call.
Recipient’s email was conspicuously published or sent to you
The email address was disclosed without any restrictions and your message relates to the recipient’s functions or activities in a business or unofficial capacity.
Valid consent given in writing or orally
The recipient gave you a positive or explicit indication of consent to receive commercial electronic messages. Your request for consent set out clearly and simply the prescribed information.
Keep records of all communications with your customers / prospects pertaining to consent. You must be able to provide a trail of how you obtained implied or express consent, since in both cases you have the onus to prove consent. Should your practices be challenged in a court of law, this record keeping will be crucial in proving your innocence.
Express consent is not time-limited. For example, consent from 5 years ago is valid up until the point in time in which the recipient withdraws his or her consent.
Implied consent is time-limited. It is valid for a period of 2 years after the event that starts the relationship (order placed, email inquiry, contract, etc.). Note that certain conditions apply. Refer to the Legislations and its associated Regulations for more information.
Consent in writing or verbally suffices. In both cases, it is the responsibility of the person sending the message to prove they have obtained consent to send the message. Be sure to consider the following when tracking or recording consent as it will make it easier to prove:
You may have their implied consent to send CEMs, as long as the following conditions are met:
Each commercial electronic message (CEM) must include:
Each CEM must include an unsubscribe mechanism that is functional for 60 days. An example of an unsubscribe mechanism would be a hyperlink that is included clearly and prominently in an email that allows your customer / prospect to unsubscribe by simply clicking it.
Your messages must not be false or misleading. They must not have false or misleading sender information, subject matter information, URLs and/or metadata. The content of your message must also be easily interpreted and cause no confusion to the recipient.