The federal government has released the final regulations that will bring in Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) with most provisions coming into force July 1, 2014.
This law has been unfolding since 2010 with the goal to limit the inconvenience and damage to electronic commerce that may result from spam communications (ie. unsolicited emails, texts, and tweets).
The Act applies to all businesses and non-profit organizations and prohibits the sending of an electronic commercial message to a person without their prior consent.
There are many exceptions to the prohibition and much clarity provided to the law since 2010, including a new exception for registered charities.
Under the new regulation, a registered charity is relieved of the obligation to obtain prior consent before sending a commercial electronic message that has the primary purpose of raising funds for the charity. The exception allows the charity to send fund-raising emails to listed donors and potential donors.
Although there is an exception, all charities ought to ensure communications with supporters and donors is by consent where possible, and to always offer an unsubscribe option should the person no longer wish to be contacted.
Consent to commercial electronic messages may be implied where there is an existing business relationship or existing non-business relationship with the recipient. Examples would include communications following a product or service transaction for business relationships, or subsequent communications with members of a club.
The Act provides that the organization that sends a commercial electronic message has the burden of proving that express or implied consent had been obtained from the recipient or, that they fit within an exception. Therefore, organizations ought to retain relevant records relating to the time frame before the message was sent. Six months for inquiries or applications, two years from purchase or lease of product or service, and two years from donation, gift, or volunteer work performed.
If the law is violated, penalties may be payable of up to $1 million dollars for individuals and $10 million dollars for companies. After July 1, 2017, recipients of unwanted spam may bring a legal action on their own or as a member of a class action against companies or individuals for personal compensation.