CASL - Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation

Many years after CAN-SPAM went into effect, Canada created their own version. The differences were significant, because Canada took on email "permissions" - something that CAN-SPAM avoided. Find out more about CASL email regulations in Canada and what it means when communicating with Canadian citizens.

What is CASL?

CASL (Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation) went into effect in Canada on July 1, 2014, with a 3 year window for everyone to be in compliance that ended on July 1, 2017. It impacts commercial electronic messages (CEM) sent to Canadian residents and from within Canada itself. It does not apply to commercial messages that are routing through Canada. The toughest email legislation in North America, CASL is focused on consent, identification and unsubscribe processes. And it impacts any global marketer who is sending a commercial email to someone who resides in Canada.

Definition of CEM (Commercial Electronic Messages)

The first legislation to go broader than email, CASL applies to all CEMs (commercial electronic messages), defined as:

  • Messages that are in an electronic format, including emails, text messages, instant messages, and some social media communications
  • Sent to an electronic address, including email addresses, instant message accounts, phone accounts, and social media accounts
  • Promotional, and/or containing a message where recipients are to take part in promotions of products, services, people/personas, companies, or organizations

Implied vs. Express Content

The interpretation of implied vs. express consent relates to the purpose of the email.

Examples of implied consent:

  • Customer has purchased a product within the last 24 hours, and email relates to the purchase
  • Charitable organizations have received a donation of either money or time and has not opted out of receiving communications. This includes club memberships.
  • A business-related message is sent to someone whose email address was given to you or publicly conspicuous. For example, if someone gives you a business card, you have implied consent to email that person.

If the message does not meet the requirements of implied consent, you will need express consent to send an electronic message.

What Does Express Consent Mean?

While the consent doesn’t have to be handwritten, it should be handled electronically in a way that the opt-in can be tracked, documented, and subsequently audited.

  • A clear and concise description of the purpose of the messages (marketing, sales, service, etc.)
  • A description of messages you'll be sending (timing, frequency, etc.)
  • Your name and contact information (physical mailing address and telephone number, email address, or website URL)
  • You must state that the user can unsubscribe at any time

Some additional things you should know

  • Like GDPR, you cannot pre-check boxes. The subscriber must check the box.
  • As stated above, you’ll need to keep records so make sure you are able to archive it
  • Like CAN-SPAM, messages should contain your physical mailing address, but also need to include your phone number and website URL. In the case of SMS, discuss with your carrier or legal team, but your terms & conditions should include this information as well.
  • Once someone has opted in, every email or text message after that should contain an unsubscribe option and unsubscribes must be processed within 10 days.
  • Unsubscribe processes must be clear. Additional clicks or logins to reach unsubscribe processes are not allowed. Additional information on unsubscribe processes can be found here

Here are some resources for additional information on CASL:

Overview of CASL
FAQ’s from Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission
Clarification on Unsubscribe Process

Disclaimer: The information provided here is only for better understanding of CASL and its impact on email marketing and cannot be relied upon for any legal advice. You may consult your own professional advisors before taking, or refraining from taking, any course of conduct. By reading this article you indemnify Pepipost of any legal implications and cannot hold it responsible for any action pertaining to the information shared in this article.

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