CASL One Year Later, Special Report

Revisiting CASL

Happy birthday CASL, well almost! Well done, you lowered spam in Cananda after the law went live on July 1st, 2014, spam originating in Canada fell an astounding 37 percent.

Since July 1, 2014, sending commercial electronic messages to clients, customers and prospects has gotten more complicated here in Canada. Canada’s anti-spam legislation (CASL) came into force and brought along with it potential fines that could reach into the millions. With this legislation, businesses that want to connect with their customers and prospects over digital messaging channels like

  • social media,
  • email,
  • install applications, and computer programs, or programs that alter data during transmission have faced new challenges.

Under the anti-spam legislation, a commercial electronic message (CEM) is defined as a digital message sent to any electronic address (i.e. email address, social media account, text message) that promotes or advertises a product, person, event, investment, or business. In more general terms, if there is any commercial activity tied to the message it would be considered a CEM under CASL.

Guide to Acquisition of Prospects

Your business or organization might want to consider creating and implementing Email welcome programs, since with CASL, this not only becomes a good idea, but a necessity. These procedures reinforce that you are taking the right steps to document the different levels of consent, using a double-opt-in mechanism that documents and records this consent for a period of time.

The welcome program orientes the person at the bottom of your funnel in clear and concise terms, as well as welcomes them in a humanizing way that gives that person the feeling of trust, credibility and good public relations with your brand or company.

For an Email program, you may want to discuss or highlight:

1) Benefits of the Newsletter or E-Campaign

2) Briefly review the types and frequency of the messaging you will be sending.

3) Encourage subscribers to add you to their Email address (active white listing) books to maximize deliverability rates.

4) Make sure that new consumers at the time of sign-up to your Newsletter, Publication or Email database consent in terms that integrate CASL’s rules.

Retention Benefits of Welcome Program 

What this accomplishes, is increases the clarity of the ‘social contract’ that new consumers are opting into, thus increasing long-term retention and boosting customer lifetime value (CLV).

The simplicity and profesionalism of which this is accomplished will go a long ways to your customer service and promote your clients to take you seriously.

The welcome program by Email also fosters better relationships via POS or call center type subscriptions. As it orientes the person to your company and your standard practices.

CASL in the first Half of 2015

Since CASL was implemented on July 1st, 2014, 17.2% of organizations have received consumer complaints about their electronic messages .

Some companies have already received and settled notifications of violations with the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

While there are no automatic penalties for violations, the CRTC has a range of enforcement tools available. The CRTC judges each case based on a series of factors, including the nature of the violation, your history with CASL, whether you benefited financially from the violation, and your ability to pay a penalty. Penalties for the most serious violations of the act can go as high as $1 million for individuals and $10 million for businesses.

In March 2015, it was reported, The CRTC has issued its first notice of violation under CASL and it carries a substantial penalty.  Quebec based Compu-Finder could pay an administrative monetary penalty of $1.1 million for four violations of Canada’s Anti-Spam Law.

Furthermore, an analysis of the complaints made to the Spam Reporting Centre of this industry sector shows that Compu-Finder accounts for 26% of all complaints submitted.

CASL Dates

The rules that apply to CEMs came into force on July 1, 2014 while the rules governing computer programs took effect recently on Jan. 15, 2015. The private right of action is set to take effect on July 1, 2017.


1) Have clear consent before sending a CEM.

  • If you’re sending email to Canada, make certain that you have consent. Must be Opt-In!
  • Document for each Email subscriber, the Opt-in consent

2) Have an easy to find, functional unsubscribe mechanism.

  • Make certain that you have a working unsubscribe process.
  • Make it easy for recipients to find.

Implied vs. Expressed Consent 

See the CRTCs one-pager on the different between these kinds of consent here.

Prohbiited Practices 

1 - Sending CEMs without subscriber’s consent (expressed or impliend) including social network accounts & text messages.

2 - Installation of computer programs without the expresssed consent of the owner of the computer system. This includes cookies, HTML code, and Java Scripts.

3 - The collection of personal info through accessing a computer system in violation of federal law (i.e. Criminal Code of Canada) and also through the use of web crawlers, the distribution and selling of email addresses to spammers.

4 - The alteration of transmission data of an electronic message that results in a different destiantion that was originally intended without expressed consent.

5 - The use of misleading (false) representations online in the promotion of products & services, with respect to header info, subject lines, URLs and the content of messages.

Does your company or organization have a good CASL story?

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