As of 1st July, the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) came into effect. Considered by many to be the toughest anti-spam legislation in the world, it could have a significant impact on the world of email marketing.
You might think that legislation in Canada may have little or no effect on the day to day workings of your business. However, this new legislation applies to any email that is opened in Canada (not just Canadian .ca email addresses). So, if there’s any chance that any of your marketing emails are being read by people in Canada, this legislation is something you should pay attention to.
What Does the Legislation Consist of?
Much of CASL is focused on consent. Anyone who sends an email that is received in Canada must have prior verbal or written consent to do so. While any good email marketer will always ask for consent before sending a message, your opt-in policy may not necessarily abide by the legislation. CASL have a very specific definition of consent.
Within CASL, the term ‘consent’ is separated into two categories; express consent and implied consent:
‘Express consent’ means that the user has explicitly asked to receive emails from you. They should have entered their email address in a box on your website or ticked an opt-in box on another web form. In both cases, the user must be given clear indication that they will receive emails from you.
Here is an example of a way to receive express consent:
The subscriber chooses to enter their email address and press ‘submit’.
As the names suggests, ‘implied consent’ implies that there is a relationship between a business and the customer, but the customer has not expressly signed up to receive emails. For example, they could have made a prior purchase from you, or they could have submitted a web form that a pre-ticked box opting them into your mailing list.
Here is an example of implied consent:
The boxes in the form have been ‘pre-ticked’.
Under CASL, implied consent expires after 2 years (unless the customer expressly opts-in to your mailing list during that time). If you continue to send emails after that time, they will be considered spam. Express consent only expires when the user unsubscribes from your list.
Failure to comply with CASL could result in some hefty fines; up to C$1 million for individuals and up to C$10 million for companies. These penalties can be applied to any company that’s found to be in breach of CASL, not just ones based in Canada. So, make sure you take action to ensure your company is abiding by the new legislation.
What Action Should You Take?
As a good email marketer, it’s likely that you are already doing a lot to comply with CASL. However, make sure you have evidence of when and how your subscribers opted-in to your mailing list. To be fully compliant, you should have written or verbal evidence of all your subscribers opt-ins. Check if any of your subscribers have only implied consent, and remove them if they have been on your list for more than two years.
For a full overview of the legislation, I recommended you look at the CASL website (http://fightspam.gc.ca/)