Tough New Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL) Affects Internet Marketers Even If In The U.S.

On July 1st, 2014, the Canadian Anti-Spam Act (CASL) went into effect and proves to be toughest anti-spam law in the world to be passed to date.

You may be thinking that this law will not affect you because you live in the United States. That assumption would be wrong.

This new legislation affects all businesses, including online marketers that email anyone in Canada, even if you are based in the U.S.

If a computer system is located in Canada and used to send or access an electronic message, then you are affected.

The penalties for non-compliance for an individual is $1 million per violation, and for a business, it is $10 million. Can you afford to not pay attention?

Now the U.S. has its own Can-Spam Act which has somewhat  changed how email marketing is being done.

Below are the TWO most important points you should be aware of but I encourage you to go to the horse’s mouth and get the official versions as this post is in no way a complete summary of either act.

How it applies to email marketing:

  • CASL regulates “commercial electronic messages” (CEM) which are defined broadly and which include all electronic messages that encourage participation in a commercial activity.  The Act defines an electronic message as including e-mail, text messages, and social media messaging and text, sound, voice, or image messages.  Should the electronic message not be related to a commercial activity, it could still be considered in breach if it contains hyperlinks to other content, websites or even  the contact information in the message coming from a business.
  • Can-Spam  law treats the type of messages you send differently rather than lumping them all under one CEM category. The basic distinction is the message’s purpose. If it’s an advertisement or promotion for a commercial product or service, it’s commercial. On the other hand, if the purpose is to “facilitate, complete, or confirm” a previously agreed-upon commercial transaction, then it’s transactional or relationship based. These would cover items such as warranty information, product updates or previously agreed-upon information to your own employees.

 How it applies to the optin procedure:

  • CASL is based on the “Opt-in” model and regulates all commercial messages that are a result of an action taken by a contact, such as a confirmation or welcome email and specifies that people must give consent prior receiving email marketing messages.
  • Can-Spam is based on the “Opt-out” model and excludes commercial messages that are a result of an action taken by a contact, such as a confirmation or welcome email and allows people to be sent email marketing messages without prior consent.

CASL is in its first phase of implementation and will be phased in over the following three-year period.  This will at least give U.S. lawyers and their clients a chance to assess whether the client needs to comply with CASL and if so, identify the process for compliance with CASL.

Given the extremely high administrative monetary penalties, it is critical to act now for fines start at ONE MILLION dollars CA for individuals and  10 million for corporations compared to $16,000 US per violation.

Both acts do require full disclosure of the sender’s contact information and the presence of an unsubscribe link.

Is anti-spam legislation a good thing?

Answering that question is a book in itself. However, making marketers more honest in their marketing can only lead to better products, better service and better accountability. If you want to discuss how this can affect your online business, feel free to contact me.

About the Author Marie Leonard

Marie is a seasoned online coach and marketer helping newcomers save time and money in applying sound internet marketing processes and providing them with versatile tools to ease their lead generation frustrations.

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