Canada’s Anti-Spam Law: Far-Reaching Implications

email marketingAs the information age wears on, it’s no surprise that many governments have had to take serious measures to keep the public safe from manipulative, dishonest and illegal presences on the world wide web. If you’re like most internet users, finding numerous messages in your inbox urging you to “CLICK HERE” and “SIGN UP NOW” is one of the main annoyances of checking your email throughout the day, especially if the messages flow from companies or brands that you aren’t interested in or haven’t interacted with in the past.

Canada recently passed particularly brutal legislation that will strictly regulate all forms of electronic communication sent for commercial purposes; the act will go into effect on July 1 of this year, and will seek to eradicate any form of commercially-based electronic message sent to recipients who have not provided consent to be contacted. Canada’s new law is so strict, in fact, that electronic communication extends to include telephone calls, email, text messages, instant messaging and all forms of social media.

The United States passed a similar act in 2003, known as the CAN-SPAM act, which also regulates the electronic communication for commercial purposes. There are, however, a few key differences. What exactly are those differences?

Via Cakemail

As you can see, Canada’s Anti-Spam Law is rigorous and has been called the “most aggressive anti-spam legislation in the world.” Not only are the punishments for breaking the law more severe than the U.S’s, but CASL’s outlined method for obtaining consent for sending commercial electronic messages is more particular. While the United States operates under an opt-out mechanism, meaning message recipients must express a desire to no longer receive commercial messages, Canada will function under an opt-in mechanism, which requires recipients to give express consent that they do want to receive a company’s commercial messages.

What is Canada’s Anti-Spam Law Designed to Prevent?

If this is all a little confusing to you, here are a few key things that the anti-spam law is designed to eradicate:

Obviously, all of these threats to internet users are damaging in ways that extend to personal finances, the health of both home and work computers, and morale. With stiff laws in place to prevent these occurrences, as well as serious repercussions for those companies and individuals who don’t abide, Canada hopes to provide its internet users with a more secure internet experience.

What Are the Punishments for Breaking CASL?

Canada’s punishments for unlawfully contacting email recipients for commercial purposes without their consent? $1,000,000 for a single offender and $10,000,000 for corporations found to be guilty. That is far from pocket change, especially when you consider how often these particular infractions happen.

What Does Canada’s Anti-Spam Law Mean for American Companies?

American companies are not exempt from the new law’s effects. If you have a strong client base in Canada, or you often email Canadian customers with offers or promotions for your business, you must obtain consent from them to continue sending promotional commercial messages.  There are a few loopholes in which you can take solace: if an email subscriber has a previous relationship or connection to your business, you still have the right to send them promotional commercial messages. This implied consent only lasts for two years from CASL’s induction, however, so you must re-seek consent from these subscribers before the two-year mark.

Is There a Grace Period to Adjust to These Changes?

Yes. Businesses have a three-year grace period beginning on July 1 to become fully compliant with CASL. This simply means that any pre-existing implied consent agreements your company has with customers will be required to carry express consent after July 1, 2017. Failure to do so will result in legal action and hefty fines.

As you can see, the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation affects more than just Canadian business owners and companies. If you have contacts in Canada or a decent population of email subscribers who have Canadian email addresses, you must comply with these changes. While the new laws will inevitably impact the way marketers think and communicate with their potential customers, you do have time to adjust to the changes and ensure that you are in compliance with each aspect of the new law.

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