What are the Canadian Anti-spam laws?
Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) Canadian Email Marketing
While we cannot provide legal advice, we feel it is important to provide you with our interpretation of how the Canadian federal law may affect you. This is a summary of some provisions of the law, and is not a full analysis of how it may apply to you. If you believe you may be affected, you should consult with your own attorney.
What You Need to Know
In December 2010, Canadian federal government passes a set of new laws governing the sending of commercial email over Canadian computer networks. These laws are now taking full effect on July 1st, 2014.
In summary, CASL requires the sender of a commercial electronic email obtain permission BEFORE they are allowed to send to the email recipient. In addition, the law mandates commercial emails contains truthful header and non misleading header information, proper identification of the sending party and time limit.
According to the Canadian government, any email sent to/from a Canadian computer, mailbox or network falls under jurisdiction of CASL.
Below are supplemental Email marketing best practices for email marking in Canada. For general email marketing best practices see our learning center.
While this law will not stop spam, it does make most spam illegal and ultimately less attractive to spammers. The law is specific about requirements to send commercial email and empowers the federal government to enforce the law. The penalties can include a substantive fine and/or imprisonment for up to 5 years. The law also includes a private right of action clause for internet service providers (but not for individuals) to sue a sender regarding the receipt of prohibited messages.
How it Affects You
Individuals, companies or businesses who do business in Canada need to comply with these laws. As a Constant Contact customer in good standing, you are already in compliance with much of the Canadian law, but there are a few things you need to be aware of going forward.
How You Already Comply
Constant Contact's terms and conditions require that your list is permission-based, which means that you already comply with the unsolicited email requirements stated in the law:
- When you upload your contacts you agree that you have obtained the consent of each recipient before sending them email.
- When you have the Advanced Email Permissions setting turned on, you are able to specify whether contacts you add to your account have given express or implied permission.
- Your email communications "From" address is verified and already accurately identifies you as the sender.
- Constant Contact automatically includes a clear and obvious method for your contacts to opt-out of future email communications.
- Constant Contact automatically processes unsubscribes from your email communications
What You Need to be Aware of Going Forward
- If you aren't already doing so, any unsubscribe requests that come to you via a reply to your email must be honored immediately.
- Unsubscribe requests never expire. You must honor all opt-out requests indefinitely, regardless of future mailing platforms, unless you receive a new explicit opt-in request for that address.
- Make sure that your email campaign's "Subject" line is straightforward, not misleading. A marketer cannot advertise "Everything 50% off" in the subject and then only offer 25% off in the message below. This is enticing the recipient to open the message under false pretences and against the CASL law. Best practice is to be truthful and consistent in both the subject line and contents of the message
- You need to include a postal address in your email campaigns. Constant Contact requires that you add a physical address before you can schedule a campaign: make sure that this address is a valid physical postal address for your organization.
- Email addresses obtained with implied permission must be removed after 2 years unless explicit permission to email them has been received.
The marketer must maintain an audit trail as to how and when they obtained consent. Best practice is to record as much information as possible on how consent was obtained. If challenged by regulators (or Canadian court) the burden of proof for consent is on the sender, not the recipient.
As always, we will keep you posted on the continuing changes in the email marketing industry. If you have specific questions about your organization, we recommend that you contact your attorney.