CASL, Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation or Bill C28, has been in effect since July 1st, 2014 and all company commercial email communication and consent databases are expected to be in full compliance.3 When it came into effect, businesses were given a three-year transition period, according to section 66, which ends next month. So, if you haven’t buttoned down your policies to ensure your business is CASL compliant, time is running out. And for those who have their processes in place, you need to make sure you are familiar with the updated rules that will take effect on July 1st, 2017.
What does implied versus express consent mean today?
Implied consent is when someone has taken an action that implies they want to receive information from your company. Before July 1st, 2017, according to fightspam.gc.ca, you have implied consent if any of the following situations are true:
- Conspicuous publication: If their contact information is published in an easy-to-find public forum like a trade publication or on a website, you can use that information under the ‘implied consent’ category.
- Disclosure: If you attend a tradeshow or a networking event and collect their business card, you have ‘implied consent’ to send them information relevant to their business.
- Existing business relationship: If you have done business with this individual in the past either by them making a purchase or inquiring about your product/service then you have ‘implied consent’ to communicate with them regarding business related matters.
- Existing non-business relationship: If someone works at your company in a paid or volunteer capacity, you have ‘implied consent’ to communicate with them.
Express consent is when someone has clearly communicated that they want to receive information from you. This can be done in a few different ways:
- Orally: if you ask out-right if someone would like to receive communications from your company and they say yes, you have ‘express consent’.
- Written: If someone completes a form with a spot where they can indicate that they want to receive future communication, you have express consent.
The advantage of express consent is that it does not expire. Express consent provides your company with the opportunity to communicate until the recipient chooses to no longer receive your communications which means they unsubscribe from your email list.
What changes on July 1st, 2017?
After the 2017 cut-off date, you may only send messages to recipients that have already opted in with express consent or whose implied consent is currently valid under CASL—that is, 24 months after a purchase or six months after an inquiry.2 This means that some of the rules above will no longer apply. If you find someone’s email address on their website, that does not give you permission to add it to your email list. You need to have done business with them within the last 2 years or had an inquiry from them regarding your products or services, within the past 6 months.
What happens if I am not compliant?
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the Competition Bureau and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada review any violations that are submitted through Fightspam.gc.ca. If your company is in violation, the CRTC has a range of enforcement tools available.1
Penalties for the most serious violations of CASL include a maximum penalty of up to $1 million for individuals and $10 million for businesses.1 Since launch, several organizations have been held accountable for non-compliant email practices with one CASL fine in excess of $1.0 million dollars.3
How can businesses ensure they are fully CASL compliant?
There are two golden rules you should follow when sending out electronic communications.
- Make sure you have consent before you send any business emails out.
- Make sure you have a simple way for the recipient to unsubscribe from the communications from your company.
Read Five CASL Compliant Ways to Add Subscribers to Your Email Database to find tips on building a CASL compliant list. If you’d like to learn more about how to ensure your marketing strategies are CASL complaint, contact us.
Disclaimer: The Mezzanine Group is not a law firm and our website does not provide legal advice. None of our team members or employees are lawyers and we do not provide legal advice. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult a lawyer if you want legal advice on CASL compliancy. You can find more information about CASL on the Government of Canada’s website, here.