On July 1st, 2014, the first set of guidelines for Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) come in to force. This new law governs all software & commercial, digital communication (email, text, voice, etc). For most businesses, this won't change much, as it is really targeted at preventing unscrupulous spammers. However, there are a few rules that will affect everyone. The highlights of the legislation include:
- You must receive prior consent before communicating with someone for commercial purposes.
- You must maintain a record of how & where you received consent.
- You must provide a clear option to remove consent.
- You must respect "do not email" lists.
Those are pretty straighforward. The penalties, however, can be quite severe - up to $10 million for companies, with a single email or text carrying a penalty of up to $200. Fortunately, it's really easy to avoid these penalties.
Do you need to do anything?
If your only digital communication is via an eNewsletter system, and you're confident that everyone on your list falls into the "have express consent" category, you're fine. However, if you have been sending to people that you only have implied consent from, or even no consent, then you should send a consent request immediately. This would include any contacts where:
- Contact information was received at trade shows: filled-in forms, business cards, etc.
- Any in-office or off-line mailing lists & contact databases that you use for marketing or other communication purposes
- Any list that you're not sure of the origin of everyone on the list.
If any of those are true, get in touch with us right away, and we can help you, or see our CASL Consent Service offer. We've sent several of these on behalf of both our current clients, and even those who aren't. We can generally get your consent request out in a day, and we'll provide you with full reports on the results of the request, so you can have peace of mind that you're fully compliant.
There are 2 kinds of consent: implied consent and express consent.
- Implied Consent: Implied consent occurs when there's a prior business relationship - for instance, a customer has purchased something from you, or signed a contract, you have implied consent to contact them. However, this consent is only valid for 2 years. You must obtain express content within that time frame, or, after 2 years, you may no longer contact them.
NB: There is a second tier of implied consent that is generated when someone submits a request or inquiry to you. This type of implied consent is only good for 6 months. You must still aquire express consent in order to continue contacting that person after 6 months.
- Express Consent: Express consent occurs when someone opts-in to receive communication from you. This can happen in several ways:
- Checking a box to indicate consent on a form. This check box must not be pre-checked. It only counts if it is a conscious opt-in from the contact.
- Writing their email address, or cell phone number in an optional field indicating that this confirms consent.
- Clicking a confirmation link an opt-in request - through email, text, or voice-prompts over a phone system. This is commonly referred to as Double Opt-In. It has long been considered a best-practice for all email subscription lists.
For most of our clients using our eNewsletter system, you're all set. We've been requiring you have these express consent features for several years.
The above only constitutes our opinion & interpretation of the legislation. For full details, please read the legislation itself for full details.