Canadian Anti-Spam Update

Avatar Act-On
Email Marketing

I recently provided an overview of the pending Canadian Anti-Spam (CASL) legislation that is expected to enter into force in 2013.

While finalization of the Industry Canada regulations are still underway, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is further ahead: it enacted its Electronic Commerce Protection Regulations in March 2012.

The CRTC recently issued two Information Bulletins on its Regulations.

These address practical aspects of obtaining consent to send commercial electronic messages (CEMs), and providing an effective unsubscribe mechanism.

The full Bulletins are available at Guidelines on the interpretation of the Electronic Commerce Protection Regulations (CRTC) and Guidelines on the use of toggling as a means of obtaining express consent under Canada’s anti-spam legislation.

A summary of these is set out below.



Specific requests for consent must be clearly identifiable to the user and also indicate that the user’s consent can be withdrawn at any time. Consent can be obtained orally or in writing, and must be positive and explicit. In other words, it must be “opt-in”.


  • An icon or an empty toggle box that must be actively clicked or checked to opt in.

Not Acceptable:

  • The pre-checked box, because it puts the onus on the person whose consent is being sought to take action in order to indicate that he or she does not consent.
  • Also not acceptable: a CEM in the form of a subscription email, text message, or other equivalent form to request express consent. Persons must be able to grant their consent to (for example) the terms and conditions of use or sale, while also refusing to grant their consent for receiving CEMs.


The unsubscribe mechanism must be consumer-friendly, simple, easy to use, and must be set out clearly and prominently. Under the Regulations it must be capable of being “readily performed”.

  • Email example: a link takes the user to a web page where he or she can unsubscribe from receiving all or some types of CEMs from the sender
  • SMS example: The user should have the choice between clicking a link, or replying to the SMS with the word “STOP” or “Unsubscribe”.


So, as you can see by these examples, the CRTC has clearly provided documentation of acceptable methods of obtaining consent and unsubscribing.

Please consult with your legal teams on how the CASL regulations will affect your marketing efforts in Canada, and we’ll continue to provide you with updates as we learn more.




Note: The example images in this blog post belong to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. These are not official versions of the materials reproduced.