Do you send out regular emails or text messages advertising to potential customers to promote your products and services? Do you send them estimates? Do you send your clients a renewal notice for an expired subscription or confirmation of an online purchase? Do you use LinkedIn to solicit potential candidates to fill a position in your organization? Do you invite people to conferences or special events?
Such communications are a part of day-to-day operations for many organizations. They inundate in-boxes of thousands of consumers. In order to “ensure sound business practices in the use of electronic communications and restore the confidence of consumers”, the Government of Canada adopted an anti-spam legislation in December 2010 (CASL) that will come into effect on July 1, 2014. One of the most stringent pieces of anti-spam legislation in the world, it imposes severe restrictions on the use of commercial electronic messages (CEMs).
Whatever your business may be - manufacturing, retail, ski centre, insurance company, engineering firm, ministry, university, etc. - you are affected by this law if you use emails, text messages or social media to sell or promote your products and services.
With some exceptions, once CASL takes effect, you will no longer be able to send a CEM unless the intended recipient has expressed his/her consent to receive it. Generally speaking, your organization will need to obtain the consent of potential customers before sending them a message containing information that is commercial in nature. The customer must also receive the information required to identify your company and withdraw his/her consent to receive such messages by means of an unsubscribe mechanism. Acquisition of email addresses through contests or special offers and purchase of lists from other parties will not, in themselves, be considered proof of explicit consent under the law.
CASL will have major implications on the electronic communication practices of Canadian organizations. Although CASL is not yet in effect, organizations should begin to prepare without delay by reviewing their e-commerce practices, updating their customer databases and developing compliance procedures.
Specifically, we have identified a number of useful steps to be taken:
- Define roles and responsibilities for the implementation and audit of compliance measures.
- List all electronic messages to identify those that fall under CASL.
- Review current practices and procedures for CEM compliance.
- Review current contracts and agreements to cover CEMs.
- Develop consent and unsubscribe forms that are simple and easy to complete.
- Add functional, user-friendly unsubscribe mechanisms to all CEMs.
For more information please contact: Dominic Jaar