On the Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL)

Over the years, DCP has explored options for communicating with our members, fans and the public in general. We have a website, a Facebook page and various email distribution lists.   We have considered web services like MailChimp.  Looking at their site I found useful articles about a new Canadian law. So here are a few factoids that will help DCP comply:

The Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL) came in effect on Jul 1, 2014. There is a three-year transition ending on July 1, 2017. There are new and serious consequences for spammers, including fines of up to $10M per violation.  Individuals and organizations, including directors, officers and other agents, are responsible and liable for the messages they send. During the transitional period, Canadian Government agencies may investigate and litigate against entities who 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.  CASL regulations apply to any “Commercial Electronic Message” (CEM).

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.

Fax messages and fax numbers aren’t considered electronic formats or addresses under CASL.

Exempt messages are:

  • 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 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.

Implied vs. express consent

The law defines two types of consent: implied and express. Implied consent is a looser interpretation, whereas express consent requires action from both sender and recipient.

Implied consent includes when:

  • A recipient has purchased a product, service or made another business deal, contract, or membership with your organization in the last 24 months;
  • You are a registered charity or political organization, and the recipient has made a donation or gift, has volunteered, or attended a meeting organized by you; or
  • A professional message is sent to someone whose email address was given to you, or is conspicuously published, and who hasn’t published or told you that they don’t want unsolicited messages.

If your recipients don’t meet any of the above criteria, then express consent is required before you can send campaigns to them.

Express consent means written or oral agreement to receive specific types of messages, for example “You want to receive monthly newsletters and weekly discount notifications from Company B.”

Express consent is only valid if the following information is included with your request for consent:

  • A clear and concise description of your purpose in obtaining consent
  • A description of messages you’ll be sending
  • Requestor’s name and contact information
  • A statement that the recipient may unsubscribe at any time.

The requestor can be you or someone for whom you’re asking. If you’re requesting consent on behalf of a client, the client’s name and contact information must be included with the consent request.

During the transition period, July 1, 2014-July 1, 2017, you may continue to send messages to recipients from whom you have implied consent, unless they unsubscribe. After the 2017 cut-off date, you may only send to recipients with express consent or whose implied consent is currently valid under CASL—that is, 24 months after a purchase or six months after an inquiry.

It’s interesting to note that MailChimp’s Terms of Use are more strict than what’s outlined in CASL, particularly regarding third-parties and implied consent.

In addition to understanding what qualifies as CASL-regulated message, and what type of consent is needed, there are a few other details to keep in mind.

  • You must retain a record of consent confirmations.
  • When requesting consent, checkboxes cannot be pre-filled to suggest consent. Each subscriber must check the box themselves for consent to be valid.
  • All messages sent must include your name, the person on whose behalf you are sending (if any), your physical mailing address and your telephone number, email address, or website URL.
  • All messages sent after consent must also include an unsubscribe mechanism, and unsubscribes must be processed within 10 days.

In the next month, DCP will send a request for consent to our email list. If you receive this message and want to continue receiving information from DCP in email form, please reply positively, according to the email instructions. You will also be able to continue to view our information on the DCP website (DCPlayers.ca) and on our Facebook DCP group page.

JP Leduc
Dundas County Players