If your organization uses email, text messaging or social networks to promote products and services, it’s time to take a close look at Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL), one of the most stringent anti-spam regimes in the world, coming into effect on July 1, 2014. Once in force, compliance with the law will be mandatory and failure to follow the rules will result in some costly fines. Patio (digital marketing agency in Vancouver) will do it as soon as possible. 

So what do you need to know?

CASL applies to everyone who sends electronic messages for commercial purposes, including individuals, incorporated and unincorporated businesses, not-for-profit organizations, etc. Common commercial electronic messages (CEMs) include advertisements and information about promotions, offers, business opportunities, events, etc. Social media sites that send email updates to their membership will also need to comply with these new regulations.

Under the new law, consent is required before sending a CEM. As of July 1, sending an electronic message to obtain consent to send a message for commercial purposes is also considered a CEM. Consent can either be express or implied and you must be able to prove you have it.

  • Express consent means someone actively gave you permission to send the message.
  • Implied consent means it would be reasonable to conclude you have someone’s permission to send a CEM based on an existing relationship.  This could be a business relationship, where the sender and recipient have engaged in certain specified types of business together in the two years prior to sending the CEM (a purchase or lease of a product, or entering into or continuing a written contract, etc.) or where the recipient of the CEM has made an inquiry to the sender in the previous six months.   This could also apply to someone who has conspicuously published his/her email address, say on a website. Or, a non-business relationship where an individual has made a donation or gift in the last two years, or performed volunteer work in the last two years, to or for a registered charity or political party, organization or candidate or where the individual is a member of certain clubs, associations or voluntary organizations.

To get consent, you need to:

  • Clearly describe the purposes for requesting consent;
  • Provide the name of the person seeking consent and identify on whose behalf consent is sought, if different;
  • Provide contact information (mailing address and either a phone number or an email address) of those parties seeking consent (do not reply emails are no longer allowed) and,
  • Indicate the recipient can unsubscribe at any time at no cost.

As of July 1, 2014, you need to include the following in every message you send:

  • The name of the person sending the message, and identify on whose behalf the message is sent, if different;
  • Contact information (mailing addressing and either a phone number or an email address) of the senders; and,
  • A mechanism that allows the recipient to easily unsubscribe at no cost.

There are a number of excluded CEMs under CASL. View the exemptions.

How should you prepare for CASL?

  • Get the consent from all of  your CEM recipients. Ensure you understand the consent you have received and keep detailed records (dates, names, emails) in case you are ever asked to prove you have consent.
  • Learn about the law at www.fightspam.gc.ca. The federal government has posted information about the law along with news, updates and valuable tips.
  • Ask a legal professional if you’re in the clear.
  • Brief your teams and make sure all outgoing messages comply with CASL requirements as of July 1.

Helpful links


Government of Canada CASL Fast Facts

Government of Canada CASL FAQs

Canadian Chamber of Commerce CASL Resources


Digital Marketing Agency in Vancouver | Phone, email or tweet us to discuss Patio’s services 604.428.4999 | info@wearepatio.com | @wearepatio

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