The Canada Anti Spam Law: What you need to know

On July 1, 147 years after Confederation, our country will usher in Canada Day with a new piece of legislation: the Canada Anti-Spam Law, or CASL.

International observers say it’s among the strictest pieces of anti-spam legislation in the world. And with CASL now a week away, we’ve read some good, bad and just plain impenetrable information about the impact this new law will have on our clients.

At Pilot, we’ve compiled a rundown of best practices in contending with CASL, easily digestible before your long weekend begins. Here’s what you need to know:

1. What is the law trying to prevent?

To figure out what you need to do, it helps to understand the spirit of the law. CASL limits the use of commercial electronic messages, or CEMs, including email, text and social media. In other words, spam. What is and isn’t spam ultimately hinges on whether or not your audiences consent to receiving electronic messages from you. When in doubt, write your customers and ask them for their consent.

2. Don’t use deceptive or misleading information in the subject or body of your messages

Your subject line needs to accurately reflect the nature of your message, and the origin of the message needs to be clear. Make sure “From,” “To,” “Reply-To,” and all routing information, including the message’s origin, are accurate and clearly identify the person who initiated the message. If your message is an advertisement, it needs to state so at the beginning of your email.

3. Offer an “opt-out” option

This might be the most important change that organizations will need to make. Your CEM must clearly explain how a recipient can opt out of future communications. You can create a menu allowing people to unsubscribe from certain types of messages, as long as there is an option to unsubscribe from all commercial messages. If someone has requested to opt out, you must honour that request within 10 business days.

4. Make sure partners aren’t spamming for you

Even if a third party is handling your CEMs, you can be held legally responsible. Now would be a good time to take stock of all electronic messages that are being sent on behalf of your business.

5. Create a compliance policy and share it with staff

Help your staff understand the law by creating a documented policy that explains how your company is responding and what the changes mean in the context of your business. Animate that policy in a group meeting, workshop or webinar. It isn’t the law, but it’s good internal communications.

Ultimately, CASL pushes companies to create content that is meaningful to their specific audiences, instead of blasting out information to the masses. As we like to say around the Pilot office: “Give me something of value and I will repay you with my attention.” So give them something of value. Otherwise, they’re going to opt out.