Note: This article originally appeared on my previous website. I am reposting it to provide context for this article.
CASL – Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation – is set to roll out July 1, 2014. Ironically, it has caused a LOT of emails to be sent out from business looking to have their subscribers reconfirm their consent. But are the Regulations the anti-spam Super Hero that everyone is
fearing hoping it will be? Probably not.
With it’s up to $10,000,000 fines for violation (Section 20(4)), the CASL is instilling fear into organizations that regularly send out email communications. This is probably evident in your own inbox by the sheer number of emails asking you to reconfirm your subscription preferences.
Alternately, the CASL is creating feelings of hope for the average email recipient – if they even know about it. People believe this will stop the inundation of “junk” emails received every day.
However, the general FEELINGS surrounding the CASL are creating a lot of confusion for everyone that’s affected by the new rules. Let’s try and clear some of that up, shall we?
The Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation is going to take effect in stages, and the first stage focuses mainly on CONSENT and what a Commercial Email MUST contain. You can read the whole, boring Act here, but let me pull and paraphrase some pertinent sections for you. The entire Act is centered on Section 6, which states:
6. (1) It is prohibited to send or cause or
permit to be sent to an electronic address a
commercial electronic message unless
(a) the person to whom the message is sent
has consented to receiving it, whether the
consent is express or implied; and
(b) the message complies with subsection (2).
The compliance laid out in Subsection (2) is pretty straightforward. All emails must include:
- Identification of the person (or business) sending the email, and the identity of the person on whose behalf it was sent, if different.
- Contact information for the person (or business) sending the email.
- An unsubscribe option.
The CASL also provides a great deal of exceptions; It DOES NOT apply to:
- non-commercial emails
- emails between parties with an established relationship, either business, non-business or personal (Yes, you can still email grandma without fear and all those confirmation requests from your kid’s school are pointless)
- emails that provide INFORMATION about your business, product, or service without a marketing message
What does it mean?
It means that you must have permission from the recipient (either express or implied), you must tell them who you are and how to contact you, and you must provide an unsubscribe option. If your emails are solely information-based (they facilitate a transaction or subscription service; provide invoices, quotes, etc.; provide a product, provide information about a product’s use, including updates, warranty or recall information), they are exempt from the CASL, providing they in no way promote or market your product, service or business.
Seems pretty simple and straightforward, doesn’t it? And chances are, that if you use an ESP (Email Service Provider), this stuff is already covered, especially if that ESP uses a mandatory double opt-in process.
So you’re golden, right? Probably, but you should still make sure you read and understand the Regulations before proceeding.
While a lot of people seem to be going on about the severity of the new Legislation, the purpose of the Act is not to limit email communications or even prevent the transmission of marketing emails. It just lays out some rules to keep out the unscrupulous senders. You know the ones I’m talking about.
For most of us, the CASL is not something to be feared. As long as you are using reputable email marketing practices, you should be perfectly compliant.
IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT CONSENT:
If you have EXPRESS Consent from your subscribers, you do NOT need to reconfirm their subscription. Express Consent has no time-limit, and consent garnered before July 1 is STILL valid after July 1. Inundating your subscribers’ inboxes with requests to “Say YES!” is likely going to polarize your list. Trust that if they said YES a year ago and haven’t unsubscribed yet, then they still want to receive your emails.
If you have IMPLIED Consent, you still may not need to reconfirm subscriptions, though it is highly recommended. Your distribution list should be segregated by consent type. Implied Consent IS time-limited. You may send to them for a period of 2 years (providing they haven’t unsubscribed prior to that), before they MUST be removed from your list. If you’re not sure how to segregate your list, your email marketing service provider SHOULD have instructions for doing so in their help section. If not, find one that does.
If you have NO Consent, then by all means, CONFIRM YOUR SUBSCRIPTIONS! Without consent, you are emailing your way right to million dollar fine.
And remember, if you need help making sure you’re compliant, I’m only a phone call away!)