CASL ( Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation ) is a hot topic these days.
You have probably received several emails in the past few days or weeks from Canadian companies asking for your express consent to continue sending you business-related communications like emails or texts. If you are one of those businesses and have a subscription form on your website where you are gathering email addresses for product updates, newsletters or other marketing efforts then this new law affects you directly!
If you haven’t heard, this new legislation (CASL) comes into effect July 1, 2014 and could effect your website, your marketing efforts and most definitely your electronic communication practices. It is very aggressive and considered an “opt-in” piece of legislation (requiring you to expressly opt-in in order to receive electronic communications) rather than CAN-SPAM in the US, which is “opt-out” (requiring you to opt-out if you no longer wish to receive electronic communications). That puts the burden of liability square on the professionals and businesses who rely on email, texts and other online forms of communication to drive their businesses.
CASL is incredibly broad in its scope – applying to Commercial Electronic Messages (CEM’s) which it defines on its website:
“Under Canada’s anti-spam legislation, there are various types of violations including the sending of unsolicited commercial electronic messages, the unauthorized alteration of transmission data, the installation of computer programs without consent, false and misleading electronic representations (including websites), the unauthorized collection of electronic addresses and the collection of personal information by accessing a computer system in contravention of an Act of Parliament.
These violations include, but are not limited to, spam, malware, spyware, address harvesting and false and misleading representations involving the use of any means of telecommunications, Short Message Services (SMS), social networking, websites, URL’s and other locators, applications, blogs, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), and any other current and future internet and wireless telecommunication threats prohibited by Canada’s anti-spam legislation.”
You can check out more details here: http://fightspam.gc.ca/eic/site/030.nsf/eng/home
How Will CASL Affect me?
It’s important that you take this legislation seriously as ignoring it could prove to be a very costly business decision. Penalties are as high as $1 million for individuals and $10 million for businesses caught not complying.
It will be interesting to see how this legislation is enforced and what kind of effect it will really have on professionals and businesses. The end goal of course is less unsolicited electronic messages (SPAM) for all of us. That is definitely a positive. However, it is also interesting to consider how much it will cost businesses, not just counting their efforts to get “express consent” before July 1, but also the loss in revenue from having significantly smaller recipient lists that they are marketing to. Depending on where you fall in the spectrum (business or individual), you may view that as another positive or a big negative!
For better or worse, it will be very interesting to see how this sweeping new CASL legislation plays out.
By the way – while we have your attention, please consider opting in for future electronic communications from OmniOnline:
* This in no way constitutes legal advice but rather, is an opinion, drawing your attention to an important change coming to businesses in the next few days.