Are you prepared for Opt-In Canada? Effective July 1, 2014, Canada is implementing strict laws designed to control access to your inbox. CASL (Canadian Ant-Spam Law) requires that all new electronic addresses added to your business or non-profit contact list after July 1, 2014, must have explicit permission from the address owner. Why the new law? To protect consumers from being deluged with spam: unwanted emails, texts, and social messages.
The new law prevents businesses from sending commercial electronic messages — emails, texts or even social media messages — to Canadians without their consent. It’s among the toughest of such laws in the world, with penalties up to $1 million for an individual violator and up to $10 million for a company that violates the legislation.
CASL laws apply to anyone sending electronic commercial messages (ECM) who is in Canada, or anyone sending to Canadian residents. What does this mean for your business? All Canadian businesses must implement a system to document that they have permission to contact each name on their mailing or texting list.
Permission-based contact lists authorize emails or texts only to informed recipients who have given permission to be contacted, typically by signing up – also called opt-in. Many commercial email contact systems have built-in, permission-based sign up, including Constant Contact, Elite Email, and MailChimp.
To prepare your business for CASL compliance follow these guidelines from Constant Contact:
1. Implement Permission-Based Consent
How do you add names to your contact list? CASL requires documented express or implied consent:
- implied consent: the contact has had a business relationship with you within the last 2 years, either as a customer, a donor, or supporter, and that relationship stays active at minimum every 2 years
- express consent: the contact gave you explicit, written permission to add them to your contact list. Express consent methods include an opt-in message and link on your website or email or a sign-up form at events.
2. Current contact list names must have their consent documented by July 1, 2017
You have 3 years to document express consent for anyone on your contact list prior to July 1, 2014. Constant Contact recommends you email each person a link to opt-in so you can document their permission-based consent.
3. CASL laws require that all your marketing ECM have specific sender information
- who is the sender
- who is the email provider
- how to unsubscribe
- how to contact the sender
CASL laws were implemented to protect Canadian consumers from spam and unwanted marketing; and the penalties for noncompliance are stiff. Implementing permission-based contact lists provides compliance to CASL laws. Even more importantly, permission-based consent is an effective and cost-efficient marketing strategy to share important information about your business with people who are interested, and most likely to respond to your marketing and engage in a relationship with your business.
Note: There are exemptions to the CASL law that do not require express consent to contact a consumer, including:
- someone you have a personal relationship with, such as a family member
- communication with employees or franchisees
- legal communications
- responding to customer correspondence
- fundraising for charities or political organizations
- phone or fax communications
Download the complete Constant Contact CASL Compliance Checklist here
For More Information on Canada’s AntiSpam Laws and Exemptions
Davis LLP Legal Advisors: New Guidance on CASL’s Charitable Fundraising Exception
Deloitte Canada: Canada’s Anti-Spam Law: Key Exemptions
Government of Canada: Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation