This is part 1 of  two-part series on Canada’s New Anti-Spam Law (CASL).

On July 1, 2014, Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (aka CASL) came into effect. Law firms and other companies that do business with Canadian companies need to understand the impact of these new regulations, or face big fines for non-compliance. LVS offers the following insights for our clients’ consideration:

CASL imageWhat is CASL? CASL (pronounced “Castle”) is the implementation of a new set of regulations, and subsequent penalties for non-compliance, by the Canadian Government. There is a transition phase which began on July 1, 2014, and continues until July 1, 2017.During the transitional period, the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the Competition Bureau, and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, may investigate and litigate against entities that don’t adhere to CASL. After July 1, 2017, any individual will also be able to sue any entity they believe is sending spam messages.   On face value, one might think that only predatory “spammers” need to be concerned about the implications of Canada’s latest anti-spam legislation. However, it is much further reaching than its friendly-sounding name would imply. In fact, it goes much further than just regulating bulk, unsolicited email communications most of us consider as “spam”. Instead, it creates an express (opt-in) consent-based set of rules that will apply to almost all electronic messages sent for a commercial purpose.

What kinds of messages fall under the CASL regulation? The regulations apply to any “Commercial Electronic Message” (CEM) sent from or to Canadian computers and devices in Canada. Messages routed through Canadian computer systems are not subject to this law. A CEM is any message that:

  • Is in an electronic format, including emails, instant messages, text messages, and some social media communications;
  • Is sent to an electronic address, including email addresses, instant message accounts, phone accounts, and social media accounts; and
  • Contains a message encouraging recipients to take part in some type of commercial activity, including the promotion of products, services, people/personas, companies, or organizations.

These types of electronic messages are exempt from CASL for various reasons.

  • Messages to family or a person with established personal relationship.
  • Messages to an employee, consultant, or person associated with your business.
  • Responses to a current customer, or someone who has inquired in the last six months.
  • Messages that will be opened or accessed in a foreign country, including the U.S., China, and most of Europe.
  • Messages sent on behalf of a charity or political organization for the purposes of raising funds or soliciting contributions.
  • Messages attempting to enforce a legal right or court order.
  • Messages that provide warranty, recall, safety, or security information about a product or service purchased by the recipient.
  • Messages that provide information about a purchase, subscription, membership, account, loan, or other ongoing relationship, including delivery of product updates or upgrades.
  • A single message to a recipient without an existing relationship on the basis of a referral. The full name of the referring person must be disclosed in the message. The referrer may be family or have another relationship with the person to whom you’re sending.

If your message does not meet one of these criteria, consent is required under CASL.

 

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