What newspapers need to know about Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation

With the launch date of the Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) fast approaching, businesses and organizations are trying to educate themselves about the legislation.

Emilia Somma and Dana-Lynn Wood from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) helped delegates at the INK+BEYOND conference understand their obligations under the new CASL which comes into effect this summer.

“Spam is a global issue. In order to enforce it, we need to enter into an agreement for information sharing,” said Wood.

Sommaria and Wood have travelled across Canada educating individuals and organizations about the new CASL regulations and teaching them how to become compliant with the law.

“When businesses become compliant, it really paves the way for us to go after the bad apples,” said Wood.

CASL will come into effect on July 1, 2014 and the new law will prohibit the sending of commercial electronic messages (CEMs) to individuals without their consent.

A CEM is an electronic message designed to promote a product or service and encourages the recipient to purchase the product or service.

Sommaria said a CEM must include the identification of the sender and their affiliates as well as their contact information and proof of consent. The message must also contain an unsubscribe mechanism that is easily performed.

Wood outlined the two different kinds of consent. Corporate members must have either expressed consent or implied consent before they can send a CEM to an individual.

Expressed consent means the recipient gave their consent to receive CEM either orally or in writing and must include a statement that consent can be withdrawn at any time. Implied consent means the recipient of the message has an existing business relationship with the sender or has disclosed their email address to the sender.

There is a time limitation on implied consent. Implied consent lasts for two years after the purchase of a product, service or subscription.

“It’s a great opportunity to update your contact lists,” said Sommaria.

A sender cannot use a pre-checked box in a message to get consent and they cannot send a message to express consent because that is considered a CEM.

Wood said there are penalties for CASL violations. Canadian monetary penalties are the highest in the world. The maximum penalty for an individual is $1 million and the maximum penalty for an organization is $10 million per violation.

Sommaria highlighted several of the exceptions to CASL. The law does not apply to personal or family relationships or members of a non-business relationship such as a club or association. A personal relationship is between two individuals and a corporation cannot claim to have a personal relationship.

CEMs can also be sent between two businesses if they already have a business relationship and if the message concerns the activities of the organizations.

Unconsented CEMs are permitted in response to an inquiry or if it is used for quotes and estimates for a product or service, but the message must meet the information requirements.
Social media contacts are not considered a personal relationship unless the person’s real identity is known.

The CRTC has published information bulletins about CASL on their website www.fightspam.gc.ca. There is also the Spam Reporting Centre on the site that allows people to report spam.

For more information about Canada’s new Anti-Spam Legislation, watch Newspapers Canada’s in-depth webinar on the topic. The presentation is available in the