Using Email To Market Your Business? 6 Must Know Changes To Canadian Spam Rules.

Canadian Spam Rules

Let the Canadian Anti-Spam Law Bring Out Creativity in Your Business!

On July 1st 2014, Canada’s anti-spam legislation (CASL) will take flight. This law will help protect Canadians from receiving unsolicited or misleading commercial electronic messages (CEM). But what does this law mean for business owners? If you’re selling your products or services through commercial emails, you must ensure you have proof of consent from the people on your mailing list.

While this may seem inconvenient, it allows you to become more creative and inventive with new ways to grab your customer’s attention and make them want to hear more about what you’re offering without feeling like they’re reading a spam email.

Here’s a few of the provisions to help you comply with the new law:

  • You must have consent from “existing business relationships” and “existing non-business relationships” before you send out a CEM.
  • You cannot alter the transmission data in a CEM to ensure delivery to destinations other than consented recipients unless you have a court order.
  • You cannot install computer programs on any other person’s system which would allow a CEM to be sent from their system unless you have consent or a court order.
  • You cannot represent online promotions of products or services in a false or misleading manner.
  • You cannot use computer programs to use or retrieve electronic addresses without permission.
  • You cannot collect personal information by accessing a computer system.

There are implementation dates for the provisions. The Canadian government will implement CASL in the following stages:

  1. Provisions relating to anti-spam will come into effect on July 1st, 2014.
  2. Provisions relating to the installation of computer programs will come into effect on January 15th, 2015.
  3. Provisions relating to the private right of action will come into effect on July 1st, 2017.

Businesses and consumers can report CEM’s that violate the law to the following government agencies:

  • The CRTC (The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission)
  • The Competition Bureau
  • The Office of the Privacy Commissioner

An email would be considered “commercial” if it encourages participation in a “commercial activity” regardless of the profit expectations. Commercial activities would include advertising your product, services, or persons offering your sales, and even in some cases, forms of charity. This law does not apply solely to emails! This law includes email accounts, instant messaging accounts, telephone accounts and any other accounts which could be perceived as similar.

There are instances where messages will be exempt, for example, if a message is sent in response to related inquiries or complaints. Other exemptions include:

  • Internal business communications sent between employees, representatives, contractors or franchisees of organizations in which messages relate to organization activities.
  • External business communications between employees, representatives, contractors or franchisees of different organizations in which messages relate to organization activities to whom the message was sent.

There is also a new exemption for messages sent via messaging services: if the information of sender and unsubscribe mechanism are present on user interface. Also, if a CEM is sent to satisfy a legal obligation or to enforce or provide notice of legal right, it is exempt.

These new prohibitions allow you to have valid express consent, instead of having to rely on implied consent, giving you a better idea of those who are genuinely interested in your services or products. The CASL will provide a three year window for a “transition period” in cases where you have an “existing business relationship” or “existing non-business relationship” with the recipient.

To learn more about the new Canadian Anti-Spam law, give us a call at 403-215-8070 or send us an email at info@vitalbusinesssystems.com. VBS can provide an overview of the prohibitions and help you comply with the CASL.