This post was first published in Andrew Gregson’s Column “Common Sense Business Solutions” on Castanet
On July 1st The Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation CASL will come into effect. The law has far reaching effects for all businesses and carries some serious fines. I have asked Frithjof Petscheleit from BlueBird Business Consulting to give us an overview of the regulations and what businesses have to do to comply.
CASL applies to all “Commercial Electronic Messages (CES)” so it covers emails, newsletters, social media messages and even text messaging. A CES is any electronically transmitted commercial message even if it is sent by a non-profit or government organisation.
The law applies to all electronic messages received in Canada, regardless of where they originate. Internationally this makes the Canadian regulations some of the most far reaching but experts expect that other countries will follow suit. Unsolicited commercial messages also known as SPAM are a huge drain on economies everywhere. Only 1% of all SPAM messages originate in Canada but Canadians waste millions of hours every month dealing with SPAM.
The CRTC, The Competition Bureau and The Office of the Privacy Commissioner will be enforcing the law. Fines can reach up to $10 Million and can lead to criminal charges.
To avoid facing these fines we have to get and document consent from the recipients of our electronic messages. This means that a potential client will have to agree to receive electronic messages from us. The best kind of this permission is called “express consent”. An example for this is when someone gives consent by signing up to your email list online.
The second kind of permission is “Implied consent” and you can use it for two years. Implied consent would be someone that you have had business dealing with in the last two years. After the two years are over you have to move them to express consent.
Some practical tips to make sure you comply with CASL:
- Be up-front about your intentions – If you are asking your customers to enter their business cards for a draw, make sure they know that the addresses will be entered into your mailing list
- If you are currently sending out your newsletters with your regular email program, now is the time to switch to a professional email marketing program which records express consent
- Make sure your social media direct messages are not commercial in nature unless you have express consent to send those messages
There are more questions than answers about the new law right now and I am not qualified to answer legal questions. But I can suggest two upcoming events in Kelowna that will provide more guidance and let you ask your questions:
- June 11th the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce offers a breakfast workshop with Jeff Robinson, Associate at Rush Ihas Hardwick LLP and myself Frithjof Petscheleit, Accredited Local Expert for Constant Contact. Sign Up
- June 18th I am offering a CASL Webinar “OPT-IN CANADA! GROW YOUR LIST UNDER THE NEW CANADA ANTI-SPAM LEGISLATION (CASL)”. Please register here.
BlueBird Business Consulting helps businesses use websites, social media and email marketing effectively. I am happy to answer your questions about CASL or anything else in this area on my website.