The Canadian Anti Spam Law (CASL) went into effect on July 1. The law has been labeled the toughest anti spam law in the world. It is clear that the CASL will have profound affects on the way Canadian companies do business within Canada, but there is still some confusion as to what this means for American companies. Furthermore, what does this mean for lead generation companies?
We would like to remind you that we are not lawyers. The purpose of this article is not to issue legal advice, but to bring these issues to your attention so that you can contact an attorney if necessary.
Remind me, what are the CASL regulations?
The CASL regulates all electronic communication that is sent for commercial purposes to Canadian residents. More specifically, it seeks to eliminate all commercial electronic messages (or CEMs) that are sent without the consent of the recipient. In America we have an opt-out system that protects anyone that opts out or unsubscribes from communications. However, in Canada the CASL effectively implements an opt-in system, where recipients must give consent to the sender in order to receive commercial electronic communication. However, a CEM cannot be used to acquire this consent.
What qualifies as ‘Electronic Communication’?
Electronic communication is defined as any email messages, messages to social networking accounts, and text messages received by mobile phone. So any electronic communication that encourages the recipient to participate in commercial activity qualifies as a CEM and is now illegal without consent.
If I am sending a CEM, what are the requirements?
Each CEM that you send requires three things: 1. You must have first obtained consent. 2. You must provide an unsubscribe mechanism. 3. You must provide identification and contact information (which includes: A. Your name, company name, or name of someone else on whose behalf or business you are sending the message B. your mailing address and C. a phone number, email address, or web address).
My company is based in the U.S. Does this apply to me?
Yes, if you market to anyone in Canada. American companies that do business in Canada or have clients in Canada fall under the jurisdiction of this law. Keep in mind that Canadian emails may be in the list of some of your publishers who send out bulk emails on your behalf. Your company or the officers and directors of your company can be prosecuted for violations.
What are the punishments?
The CASL carries a maximum punishment of $10 million for corporations and $1 million for individuals for each day that there is an infraction. Class action suits can also begin as of July 1, 2017.
What does this mean for lead generation companies specifically?
Lead generation companies need to be mindful of their electronic communication efforts. If you have clients or prospects that live in Canada (or you suspect they do) caution is advised. It would be wise to consider separating your Canadian recipients from the others and marketing differently to them. However, the CASL will wave consent requirements to people that you currently do business with until July 1, 2017. At that point you will need to acquire consent to send them CEMs. If you have Canadian emailing lists, it would be smart to start marketing to them now to obtain consent while you currently have an existing business relationship.
This article was written to help inform you about the new Canadian Anti Spam Law and how it may affect you. It is by no means meant to be taken as legal advice. For complete information on the Canadian Anti Spam Law, we encourage you to click here.