Canada Anti Spam Legislation Takes Effect July 1st 2014

Last Update: June 16, 2014

CASL or the Canada Anti Spam Legislation affects anyone who operates a business in Canada especially anyone who uses email or text messaging for commercial purposes!

Now I am no expert on this legislation and I am looking to learn from people that are more informed than I am.

The actual legal text is here:

The governments overview is here:

The following is a "Survival Guide" created by <== This one may the most important to read (it is not an affiliate link)

Read the above documents!

This is my take on this and I am the first to admit I do not have a complete understanding. I am not a lawyer!

Main Points of the legislation

  • To send an email or a text to a person regarding a commercial transaction have to be sent to a person that has given you express permission to do so. Simply signing up on a single opt in form is not enough to constitute "Expressed Consent"
  • Any message sent to a person with a call to action that involves purchases constitutes a "commercial electronic messages" CEM
  • Any business in Canada is governed by this legislation and anyone sending email to a Canadian email address (although I am not sure about out of country prosecution)
  • Internal emails within a business are exempt from the Act.
  • Charities are exempt (some other exclusions as well)
  • Communication between people who have a familial relationship or personal relationship (as defined in the Act) are exempt.
  • Informational only emails that contain hyperlinks to your website with out commercial promotion are not covered by this legislation.
  • The legislation seems to want a sign up form that is a double opt in with an reply email confirmation link and an unchecked box asking to check if you want commercial related information sent to you.
  • Capture the IP address as well as name, email, and express consent, and date and time.
  • All email correspondence requires a valid mailing address as well as valid reply email address
  • All emails require a conspicuous "Unsubscribe" link or button
  • Any computer programs that are "automatically" installed on a computer after Jan. 2015 have to ask if you want to complete the install. This does not apply to upgrades of existing programs. Does not apply to cookies.
  • The Legislation has a special transition period of 36 months before a person could be brought to court but my guess this could be retro active until July 1 st 2014.
  • A single transaction such as a purchase, covers all the emails until the purchase or transaction is completed. So if I capture your email to send you a download page for an ebook or a welcome message after joining a paid membership I only have to have expressed consent once. If I do not get expressed consent to send you more emails on related products then I am in violation of the legislation.
  • You are allowed to respond to inquiries, as this is considered expressed consent for that issue or transaction. Once that initial transaction is completed there is a time limit to continue to contact that person.
  • Joint Ventures are possible but with restrictions. You must inform the person when they are signing up that unknown 3rd parties may be given their email addresses. The 3rd parties must have an opt out option on their emails and must refer to the original business when communicating with your customer.
  • "The CASL transition rule that gives you three years for implied consent instead of the typical two years is only valid if you’ve been emailing those contacts before CASL goes live." from Step 8 of the above CASL Survival Guide. Goes live means July 1st 2014!! So send an email to your list just to say Hello.
  • Fines in the order of $1,000,000 to $10,000,000

These are just the highlights I have found. Essentially anyone working with email marketing or text marketing has more hoops to jump through to make sure their list is reconfirmed and that you record the appropriate data that would stand up in a court case to prove you were not sending unsolicited commercial electronic messages.

I am wondering if anyone has looked into the details of this further and if they have developed their own personal action plan to come into compliance with this legislation. I know there are many Canadian marketers here at Wealthy Affiliate and it will directly affect them. It may more indirectly affect people from other countries but it is worth being informed as well.

For added infomation see my recent blog post:

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cotati4 Premium
Thank you DB for this. I have a friend working in a large law firm who has been telling me what they have been doing with all their client lists. It amounts to pulling out their hair because they do a lot of seminars and invite clients by email. The single transaction is the problem. We really have to think it out. i am so happy to have this info because I have mailing lists and am trying to figure out how it would apply.
dblacksmith Premium
Hi cotati4
I am finding it a bit unwieldy as well. I have several lists which have double opt in through getresponse. The first thing I have done is send a general update to the mailing list so this at least counts as correspondence before the start date. So in theory I have 36 months to either convert them to double opt in plus checking the check box. Alternatively find out if the double opt in by itself is in fact enough for the legislation. I am still unclear on this.

In some ways for me it is more things like business cards. Business to business is fine if it is related to the other persons business. Eg. if I want to buy something from them. If a prospect gives me their business card how many times can I contact them by email if I only have the card and no sign up? Express consent or Implied consent.

Companies that I have dealt with are just sending an email to me asking for me to confirm by checking a confirm button or even simply returning the email with the subject line changed to I agree. I am sure they are loosing a number of clients off their list, but this may not be a huge problem depending on the overall response.

I have to dig further though the legislation but since I am not a lawyer I really am making my best guess on some things. I am happy to have your collaboration. If you or your friend have any insights I would welcome reading them.

I will post anything I figure out here.
Thanks again for the comment.
cotati4 Premium
Another thing....does this apply to other country emailing from Canada as well? The majority on my lists are US. My friend's law firm is finding half the people just don't answer,b ecause they already have given permission and have got all the info in the past. Guess we will figure out in time for an update.
dblacksmith Premium
Hi Cotati4
My understanding is that yes it does apply to email headed outside of Canada as well. From what I read in the legislation the action is covered from when and where it is sent even if the email is never received or not received in this country. The realistic side of this is it is unlikely that we will get complaints from outside of Canada, but if it should go to court and they crawl through all the data they may be able to say "you sent 1000's of emails out to people that have not given expressed consent".

Most of my list is US based as well, but I have not found an easy way to to divide my customers geographically.