Starting July 1, 2014, Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation comes into effect and while you might be feeling overwhelmed by the consequences of non-compliance (including monetary penalties for individuals and organizations), it is important NOT to panic!

Instead, take a deep breath and read our CASL FAQ below:

What is the CASL?

The Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation was passed in 2010 and regulates the dissemination of commercial email messages (CEMs).

It takes effect July 1st and will be enforced by 3 government agencies: the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the Canadian Competition Bureau and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.

Does the CASL apply to me?

If you’re sending any email with a commercial purpose then yes, the law applies to you.

Electronic messages with a commercial purpose may do one or more of the following:

  1. Offer, advertise or promote goods or services, business or investment opportunity
  2. Advertise or promote a supplier of goods or services, business or investment opportunity

Examples of commercial electronic messages: offers of stock-market options, credit and mortgage arrangements

An electronic message may also be considered to be a commercial electronic message if the information which may be accessed via hyperlinks, telephone numbers or contact information in the message has a commercial purpose.

This means that even if the message itself has no commercial purpose but provides a link to a web page which is considered to have a commercial purpose (based on presentation and content), then the originating email may be considered a CEM.

 

Does this mean I can’t send emails to my mailing list after July 1st?

You can still send emails to your list of current subscribers as of July 1st because there is a three-year transitional period starting from July 1st, 2014 and ending on June 30, 2017. During this period, you can send emails to your list of current subscribers who have not withdrawn their implied consent as well as new subscribers who have given their express consent.

Before June 30, 2017, you need to obtain express consent from your current subscribers if you wish to continue emailing them after June 30, 2017.

 

So how do I send out CEMs to my mailing list and still stay compliant?

To email subscribers after July 1st, you need to meet certain requirements depending on if you are emailing current subscribers or new subscribers who have signed up to your mailing list after July 1st.

New Subscribers
New subscribers are those who have never signed up for your mailing list before and therefore have never given their consent, implied or express.

For new subscribers:

  1. You must obtain someone’s express consent before you can send them a CEM.
  2. Your email must include identity info, an accurate subject line, as well as provide correct contact information (i.e., mailing address and telephone number, email address or web address). If you’re sending the message on behalf of a third party, you must identify the person on whose behalf the message is being sent.
  3. There must be an unsubscribe mechanism in place.

Current Subscribers
Current subscribers are those with whom  you already have an existing “business relationship” or an existing “non-business relationship”.  If they have been receiving your emails and have NOT unsubscribed within the last 2 years prior to July 1, 2014, then their consent is implied.

For current subscribers:

  1. Your email must include identity info, an accurate subject line, as well as provide correct contact information (i.e., mailing address and telephone number, email address or web address). If you’re sending the message on behalf of a third party, you must identify the person on whose behalf the message is being sent.
  2. There must be an unsubscribe mechanism in place.

Current subscribers must give their express consent within 3 years if they wish to continue receiving your emails. Their implied consent is withdrawn if they unsubscribe from your list during the transitional period.

 

What’s the difference between express and implied consent?


Consent can be express or implied. Documentation of consent can be written or verbal. However, the onus will always be on the sender to prove that express consent has been obtained and for this reason, we recommend having written documentation of obtained consent.

Express consent is where the recipient of the CEM has given his or her consent to receive the message. In other words, it is an “opt-in” consent, meaning the recipient signed a document or checked a box on a form. The key to express consent is that the recipient actively does something to indicate consent.

The CRTC website provides excellent examples on how to obtain express consent electronically (via an email form or web form):
http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/casl-lcap.htm

 

What is an “unsubscribe mechanism”?

This just means that you have to give subscribers the option of unsubscribing through a link, form or email address.

It must be free and easy to use. If you’re asking subscribers to send an email in order to unsubscribe, you must comply and remove the subscriber from your list within 10 business days.

 

Isn’t a request for express consent also a CEM?

There are some exceptions to the CASL rules that allow you to email someone in the following circumstances:

You’re allowed to email someone in response to a request, inquiry or complaint.

This means that you’re allowed to email someone if they have signed up on your website because you’re responding to their request to be added to their mailing list. You cannot, however, email them any other kind of CEM until their express consent is obtained (such as when they click on an “I Consent” link in a form).

 

Are there other exceptions?

You’re also allowed to send CEMs internally within an organization or between organizations that have an ongoing relationship, where the message concerns the activities of the organization.

You’re allowed to send CEMs to subscribers registered in a foreign country identified in the CASL regulations, and that comply with that foreign country’s anti-spam legislation.

 

What information do I have to include when making a request for someone’s express consent?

When obtaining express consent:

  1. You have to clearly and simply specify the purpose for which consent is sought.
  2. You must identify the organization seeking consent and/or the organization on whose behalf consent is sought.
  3. You must provide contact information (i.e. mailing address and telephone number, email address or web address).
  4. You must provide a statement that the recipient may withdraw his or her consent by using the means provided (ie., unsubscribe link).

 

What can Blender Media do to help me stay compliant?

To date, we have been updating your mailing list and sending out emails on your behalf with the understanding that you already possess and/or you are able to  provide us with consent information upon request (via email history, for instance).

In addition, from July 1st, we’re implementing opt-in procedures for all mailing lists managed through our dissemination system.

 

Opt-In Processes

From July 1st, all subscribers who sign up for a list on our website will receive an opt-in request before they can be added to your list. The request will direct them to a form where they will need to enter their name and click a button confirming their consent.

This same opt-in request will be sent to any email address that you forward to us to manually add to your list.

 

Mailing Campaigns to Obtain Express Consent

If you have not been tracking consent from current subscribers, we suggest that you start a mailing campaign to obtain express consent from subscribers current as of July 1st.

We can set up your list to document opt-in dates of subscribers. However, please note that if you decide to start this mailing campaign, you will not be able to email anyone on your list who does not provide express consent.

These tools are being provided to you to help you obtain and track consent. However, please remember that the responsibility for maintaining and tracking the obtainment of express consent rests with you, the “owner” of your mailing list.

How can I find out more about the CASL?

Read the law. The government has posted the full text of the law on their website:
http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/E-1.6/index.html

If you want a more concise explanation of how the law applies to you, then read the FAQ:
http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/FAQ/

And if you want a breakdown of how the legal requirements should be met, there are excellent examples on the CRTC website:
http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/casl-lcap.htm