A business recently had to pay a $48 000 fine because it was guilty of not knowing about Canada’s anti-spam law. Be sure to read this post so that this doesn’t happen to YOU!
One year ago, Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) appeared in the already-dense maze of red tape through which every business is supposed to navigate. Puzzled, troubled and in a state of fear, hundreds of entrepreneurs sought out information in order to be compliant with the new law.
What is CASL?
In short, as its title makes clear, this law is aimed at reducing – or better, stopping entirely – the amount of spam consumers receive each day in their inbox.
It is important to define the targets of the anti-spam law: think about emails, text messages, instant messages, or any other similar communication with clients (past, current or potential) in a business context.
The intended targets of CASL are not legitimate businesses who are simply trying to communicate to their customers, but rather professional spammers:
- Organized spamming operations
- Collectors of huge amounts of money through spamming operations
- Distributors of malware
- Identify thieves
How do I ensure I’m complying with CASL?
The key to complying with CASL is to make sure you obtain authorization before sending any communication, or can reasonably assume you have authorization. This is what is known as “consent.”You must also keep record of those authorizations.
There are two forms of consent that are relevant to CASL compliance: “express” consent and “implied” consent.
There are certain activities or relationships that are covered by CASL rules up to July 1, 2017, under “implied consent”:
- A pre-CASL business relationship already exists; consent is also implied when customers have inquired about products or services before July 1, 2014.
- Relationships with transactions within the past 24 months.
- New customers for up to 6 months after inquiry.
- Business-to-business marketing where the business address is published and the electronic message is related to work.
Implied consent can turn into express consent by request. Once express consent is given, it never expires unless the person who gives it withdraws their consent.
Express consent means a person or organization gives you explicit permission to communicate with them electronically. While express consent is the “gold standard,” implied consent will be acceptable for most businesses. You may already have the consent, as long as you have the records to track your clients’ consents.
This is one of the most important parts of the law. Every message with any sort of commercial aspect to it must have an unsubscribe option for message recipients. This option must be easily accessible and free. If you do get an unsubscribe notice, you will have 10 days to act on it.
Email marketing software
Depending on how often you communicate with your clients, and if you send emails for different purposes, you may want to look into email marketing software. Doing a quick web search for the term will provide a list of options, many of which are free for small users.
Given some of the changes required to your business’ publicity and networking practices, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business has created a half-hour overview of Canada’s anti-spam law video and a thorough written overview of the CASL requirements.
Now that CASL has been in effect for a year, take a few moments and read up on these CASL compliance guidelines, just to ensure you know your responsibilities and you aren’t leaving yourself exposed to a fine for simply communicating with your customers!