Small businesses who have an email list will need to modify their email marketing campaigns to comply with Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation Act – CASL – which goes into effect July 1, 2014. Does your small business send emails to Canada? Then read up, because this affects you! Are you ready?
How do I know if CASL this applies to me?
This applies to you if you have an email list and someone on that list lives in Canada.
Did you obtain documented consent to send an email?
You must have obtained explicit consent to send Canadian recipients an email. If your list is made up of people you’ve added, but did NOT originally provide you consent, then you will need to get their consent prior to including them on your email campaign. For example, let’s say that your list is made up of friends, family, business contacts, Facebook fans and LinkedIn Contacts. But you put this list together and these fine people did not originally give you consent to add them to your list, then you will need to ask for their consent again to be included in your email list.
Why should I care?
Well because fines are pretty steep! Consequences range somewhere in the $1M – 10M area AND, you are responsible for messages sent by any directors, officers or agents of your company. There is no “well I didn’t know” defense either. Starting in 2017, individuals can sue companies for unsolicited marketing emails as well.. So if you send them a message, let’s just refer to their printed copy of your message as Exhibit A.
But this person is my Facebook friend!
Unfortunately, that’s not enough because a personal relationship is required if they are your friend. According to Fightspam.gc.ca’s website:
A “personal relationship” requires that the real identity of the individual who alleges a personal relationship is known by the other individual involved in such a relationship (as opposed to instances where a virtual identity or an alias is used). Using social media or sharing the same network does not necessarily reveal a personal relationship between individuals. The mere use of buttons available on social media websites – such as clicking “like”, voting for or against a link or post, accepting someone as a “Friend”, or clicking “Follow” – will generally be insufficient to constitute a personal relationship. Source
Under the CASL, the burden of proof is left to you to prove that you’ve obtained the recipients’ consent to send commercial emails. So if you don’t have explicit consent, refer to Exhibit A above.
What do I Do?
Fortunately, there is a transitional period, but this doesn’t mean that you should wait. If your email list is long and you have no idea where recipients reside, then you need to set up a plan to get these people to opt in to receiving your newsletters and email marketing messages.
Want more information?
The following are a list of sites that can offer more information on Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation:
- Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation Frequently Asked Questions
- MailChimp – About the Canada Anti-Spam Law (CASL)
- What CASL Means for iContact Customers
- Product Update: How Constant Contact is Preparing for CASL
- 3 Steps to CASL Compliance by Constant Contact
- What You Need to Know About Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL) by AWeber Communications