Spam, spam, spam, spam…
The Vikings who invaded the café in the classic Monty Python sketch sang about it. And Canada is officially battling it―well, the electronic kind of spam that has nothing to do with canned meat, that is.
Canada’s Anti-Spam Law, known commonly by the acronym “CASL,” first went into effect in 2014, but will be fully enforced starting this summer. Are you ready?
The legislation brings many implications for marketers who are either Canadian or have Canadian business interests and ties. It affects their acquisitions programs and welcome tactics, list growth and hygiene, unsubscribe processes, social media practices, and more.
“As businesses prepare for the full enforcement of CASL on July 1, 2017, it’s more important than ever for marketers to understand their obligations under the legislation and ensure they have the full consent and unequivocal opt-ins from potential buyers,” said David Fowler, Head of Privacy & Compliance at Act-On Software.
Affected marketers need to make certain that their practices and policies are in full compliance ― or else risk harsh penalties. Both individuals and companies are liable for any messages they send.
The law applies to all Commercial Electronic Messages (CEMs) sent “by Canadian companies, to Canadian companies, or messages simply routed through Canadian servers.” CEMs are email or SMS messages such as texts, images, voice, sounds, and some social media (or even technologies that are not yet available), and are directed to electronic addresses and contain messages that encourage recipients to engage in some sort of commercial activity. CASL exempts communications sent via telephone or fax machines because they’re already regulated under Canada’s Telecommunications Act.
Many messages ― such as those sent for personal, charitable, legal, or informational purposes, among others ― do not fall under CASL’s jurisdiction. So it’s important for marketers to know the difference between exempt and non-exempt messages.
Under CASL, marketers may only send email to recipients who’ve given their consent to getting this communication. This “opt in” may be implied, such by the consumer engaging in a transaction with a company or by listing a telephone number or email address in a public directory. Records collected by marketers via implied consent have a time limit. In any case, senders must give recipients the option to stop receiving messages.
It’s little wonder many marketers with Canadian audiences are feeling a bit anxious about the law’s consequences and its impact on their programs and practices. These professionals need to, among other tasks:
- examine their data;
- know what penalties and enforcement consequences await those who fail to comply;
- understand exactly what constitutes a CEM;
- ensure they’re getting consent from subscribers and including disclosures when asking for that consent, and;
- create an appropriate unsubscribe process.
All of this is even more nerve-wracking if you don’t have good, experienced guidance along the way and a sound system in place to help you meet all CASL requirements.
“Act-On understands this concern, and continues to take steps to uphold only the highest possible standards for international compliance, data privacy and accessibility, and communication,” said Fowler.
If you’re in a Canadian organization or send promotional messages to Canadian businesses or individuals, it’s crucial that you find out if your marketing programs are in line with Canada’s anti-spam laws. Act-On offers a handy CASL compliance checklist that can help you do just that.