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Update on Canadian Email Regulations

Date: January, 2014 --

The regulators’ quest to end email marketing as an acquisition medium in Canada is on the verge of becoming a reality with the Canadian Anti-SPAM Legislation, better known as CASL, due to take effect on July 1, 2014. Make no mistake, at least from the standpoint of the implicit opt-in requirement, CASL represents one of the strictest pieces of email privacy legislation in the world and its implications have the power to reach across borders as well as into mediums beyond email.

The first thing marketers should notice, especially given the astronomical growth of mobile, is the expanded coverage of the legislation in governance of what it calls Commercial Electronic Messages (CEM). CEM covers any electronic message, including email as well as SMS, instant messages and more, that can be construed as encouraging the participation in a commercial activity. Nonprofits should take note as well given that the law makes no exception for cases where a profit is not expected.

As with most privacy laws there will be gray areas and ambiguous language with unclear applications; e.g., the fact that the law applies to any message accessed on a computer or device within the borders of Canada has already raised a number of obvious questions, but marketers gathering names online, even those doing so organically, must be sure to update data management protocols, such as eliminating any pre-checked opt-in fields, so as to ensure compliance. After all, with the penalty being up to $10 million dollars per violation, do you really want to take chances?

For additional commentary and details on the contents of the Canadian Anti-SPAM Law (CASL) check out the following outside articles:

A Detailed Look at Email Consent and Canada’s New Anti SPAM Legislation (CASL) – The Email Marketing Lounge – December 18, 2013
What You Need to Know about CASL – The Magill Report – December 10, 2013
Why You Should Care about Canada's Anti-Spam Law – Direct Marketing News – January 6, 2014
Canada's Anti-Spam Law (CASL) Is Now a RealityDMA Advance – December 4, 2013
Open Letter to Anti-Spammers on CanadaThe Magill Report – December 10, 2013