Canada’s New Anti-Spam Legislation

As of July 1st, 2014, Canada's new anti-spam legislation (CASL) will take effect. Now... what does that mean exactly?

Basically, they are saying that all Commercial Electronic Messages (CEMs) may only be sent to people whom have provided express consent to an organization – profit and non profit, alike.

So what IS a CEM? What is express consent vs implied consent? And how do you get (or provide) consent in a way that can be proved? Let's break it down.

What is a CEM?

Well, for starters there doesn't seem to be a definite set of rules to classify a commercial electronic message, absolutely. It seems to be more of a case-by-case basis. For example:

As stated by the government's Fight Spam website, when determining whether a message is aiming to encourage participation in commercial activity, important parts of the message to look at are:

  • the content of the message
  • any hyperlinks in the message to website content or a database, and
  • contact information in the message.

They say that "a message that promotes a product or service that encourages the recipient to purchase that product or service would make the message a CEM."

This does not only include emails, however. Any direct message on social media (such as Facebook) or via text message can also qualify as a CEM. Messages sent out to the public, though, do not.

A company must make sure that included in each CEM are: the identification of the sender of the message and, if applicable, the person on whose behalf the message is sent; a mailing address to contact such persons; and a prevalent unsubscribe button.

What is express consent vs implied consent? 

Ok so now that we know what a CEM is, how do you know if sending (or receiving) one is illegal? It all boils down to consent.

Implied consent means that the recipient did not ever give permission, oral or written, to the sender to electronically contact them with a CEM. Implied consent would be someone NOT removing themselves from an organization's mailing list, not unchecking a pre-checked box on an online form, or handing you a business card.

Express consent is defined by the offering, either written or oral, of permission to an organization to send them CEMs. It means that the recipient took action to receive content and could not have been passive.

The legislation states clearly that it is up to the sender to provide proof of express consent. 

So how do you get (or provide) consent? 

It is recommended that for each recipient the sender record these four things:

  • whether consent was obtained in writing (this includes electronic forms) or orally,
  • when it was obtained,
  • why it was obtained, and
  • the manner in which it was obtained.

To get oral consent, the future recipient must say that they are willing to accept CEMs and there must either be a third party witness or a sound recording. 

The sender is allowed to receive written consent by including a check box  (it can NOT be pre-checked), on a web page to indicate consent where a record of the date, time, purpose, and manner of that consent is stored in a database; and/or offering a consent form at a point of purchase.

It is clear that organizations must strictly follow this new set of guidelines based on the fact that being handed a business card only qualifies as implied consent and the penalties for infractions could be as much as a one million dollar fine.

How does that affect The Purple Stapler?

We would greatly appreciate it if you could dedicate just a few moments of your time to provide us with your express consent to share with you the latest updates and news about our events, films and other projects.

Please know that we will never share, trade or sell your information to anyone. If you decide at any point that you no longer wish to receive updates from us, you can Unsubscribe via the bottom of any email update you receive.

Thank you for bearing with us through these legislative changes. Hopefully, they will make email marketing a better place for both company and client.

** If you are interested in learning more about the legislation and what it means for you, click here. It will take you to the new Canadian Legislation’s FAQ where we sourced this information.