If you are an email marketer, you may have heard that Canada recently passed legislation to regulate email marketing. The Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL) went into effect on July 1st, 2014, but lots of marketers are still in the process of navigating these new rules. If this includes you, don’t worry – you’ve still got plenty of time to figure it out, and we’re here to help you get a handle on it. There is a three-year transition period to allow email marketers to adjust to these new regulations, so now is the perfect time to make sure your marketing practices adhere to these new rules.

Please note that this blog post is meant to provide you with general information on the new Canadian Anti-Spam law, and does not constitute legal advice. Our email support team at US Data Corporation is available to assist you if you need help. However, we are not attorneys, so please contact a licensed lawyer for legal advice.

Even though you may live in the United States, or some other part of the world besides Canada, this law still applies to you if you send emails to an address in Canada. That means you may need to pay attention to Canada’s new regulations, even if your business is not located there. The CASL violation fee is $1-10 million. Scary, I know. And I thought the fee of $16,000 for a CAN-SPAM violation was a lot!

How can you tell whether or not this law applies to you? Here’s an infographic by CakeMail that can help you decide if you need to follow CASL or not.

The CASL applies to Canadian Commercial Electronic Messages (CEM). One of the main differences between CASL and the CAN-SPAM law is that CASL includes emails and text messages, instant messages, some social media, and automated cell phone messages that are sent to computers and cell phones [in Canada]. The US’s CAN-SPAM law only regulates emails. So if you use any of these other marketing mediums in addition to email, be sure to read up on the CASL regulations to ensure you are in compliance.

The main focus of CASL is explicit consent. CASL is much stricter when it comes to permission than the US’s CAN-SPAM law. The CAN-SPAM Act allows email to be sent to anyone without an opt-in permission (different than Europe’s anti-spam law), unless they have opted-out of the email and as long as you provide them with an opt-out mechanism. CASL requires you to get permission for both opting-in and opting-out. You also need to keep track of the proof of consent confirmations.

There are three requirements to follow when acquiring explicit consent. First, you must specify why you want the receiver’s consent. For an example: “We would like to send you monthly promotions.” Second, you have to provide the receiver with identification/contact. Third, you have to let the receiver know that they have they have the option to not consent if they do not want to.

It is important to keep in mind that you cannot use pre-checked boxes to obtain express content. According to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commissions website:

“The manner in which you request express consent cannot presume consent on the part of the end-user. Silence or inaction on the part of the end-user also cannot be construed as providing express consent. For example, a pre-checked box cannot be used, as it assumes consent. Rather, express consent must be obtained through an opt-in mechanism, as opposed to opt-out. The end-user must take a positive action to indicate their consent. For example, this can be done by providing a blank box which a user can check off to indicate consent.”

There is an exception to this strict permission rule though, known as “implied consent.” An example of implied consent is if you and the receiver have an active business relationship within the past two years. Or, the receiver has made an inquiry about your products/services at any point within the last six months before you send them an email. For more examples of implied consent, go to the Canadian government’s CASL website.

It is very important to understand these laws and regulations as an email-sender. Most email marketing service providers have already taken all necessary steps to ensure your emails comply with the new Canadian Anti-Spam law. But, if you manage your own email marketing and/or did not know about the new CASL, I hope this blog post has enlightened you and will guide you. If you have any further questions about CASL, please feel free to call US Data Corporation at (888) 578-3282.