The recent CASL anti-spam laws in Canada have caused some debate among email marketers, particularly in the United States, with many people asking why they should adapt their strategies to comply with another country’s legal system.

While it’s a debate that could go on for years, at iContact, we are committed to protecting the reputation of our senders (and ourselves) globally and have made tweaks to our service to make sure you all stay on the right side of the Canadian law. It’s one thing to debate the rights and wrongs of a legal system – but I’m sure you’d rather not be doing that in court.

One thing we are happy not to debate is the CASL ruling that purchased email lists are simply not acceptable.

At iContact, we have never allowed our users to send emails via our system to purchased or otherwise dubiously acquired lists. An outsider looking in might be surprised by how many resources we commit to weeding out unscrupulous senders from our system. These are paying customers, and you might think it would be too easy to turn a blind eye to their activities and take their cash. However, in the long run this would severely damage our reputation and potentially have a negative impact on the tens of thousands of honest clients we serve.

But if you are looking for another reason not to used purchased lists – try this for size:


Email marketing’s success is largely based on the permission subscribers have given you to contact them. This is why email marketing remains the most cost-effective method for driving repeat business to your organization. When you purchase a list, no matter what the vendor tells you, you do not have a relationship with the names on that list, and therefore have no permission to contact them. In short, a purchased list is as good as spam.

This post first appeared on the iContact Email Marketing Blog.