For the last several weeks, I have been receiving emails (mostly from law firms) reminding me that Canada’s new Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) is coming into effect on July 1st, 2014 – less than two months from now. Canada’s was one of the last remaining developed countries without anti-spam legislation, so CASL is an effort to get Canada caught up on that front.
At it’s core, CASL is designed to ensure that Canadians that are receiving electronic communications such as newsletters, updates or fundraising requests, have given their consent to receive that content. If your organization communicates via any electronic medium – email, text message, MMS, etc – then you are going to want to ensure you have taken steps to ensure those you communicate with have opted in to receive your information. Politicos can take a deep breath: registered charities and political parties are exempt.
If you have followed best practices in creating, say, your newsletter, you don’t have much to worry about. Clients like MailChimp require you to only communicate to those you have an existing relationship with or have expressly given their consent by “opting in” through a sign up form. In fact, as MailChimp points out in their post on CASL, their consent policies are in many ways more strict than CASL itself.
But if your organization collects or buys email lists and send them out cold, it is time to get your affairs in order, as the penalties for violating CASL are harsh: each violation can be up to $1 million for individuals and up to $10 million for companies How do you do that? by receiving either explicit consent (opt in) or implied consent through a personal or current business relationship. You can read here and here to get a better understand of what each form of consent entails and whether those you communicate with fall under one of the two categories.
We certainly don’t give out legal advice here at Grassroots Online, so if you are looking for a legal opinion, a number of firms have been writing and offering compliance services to ensure you are ready for July 1st.
If you’ve been following best practices, you likely have little to fear, However, it is recommended to ensure you take the necessary steps – whatever they may be – to ensure you have the permission of those you are communicating with. Otherwise, life after July 1st will get a whole lot riskier.