No one likes getting spammed. Unless you enjoy being given canned luncheon meat, but that’s not the kind of spam we’re talking about!
These virtual time vampires suck minutes, or even hours, out of your day. It’s frustrating to wade through mounds of unsolicited emails, or be wary of what you can click on for fear of malicious threats hiding in attachments and vague links. Email services such as Gmail have developed filters that are effective at keeping spam out of your inbox, but they aren’t perfect. As well, spammers are becoming more sophisticated and making use of other media (such as SMS, social media, etc.).
If only it was illegal to send spam, and there was a way to report it. And as of July 1st, 2014, it is in Canada, thanks to Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) .As you likely know, the first stage of this ground-breaking legislation came into effect just over a month ago. Even before it came into effect, the Array team has been researching and keeping informed on this new, complex legislation. This was pretty great news for all of us, and will help us be more efficient and safe in our dealings online.
But, say you’re a business owner, and you have an awesome deal on a service you want to let clients know about: now what? While many organizations are being extra cautious, CASL doesn’t mean you have to stop promoting your business, or that you’re going to spam jail (not that we think spam jail actually exists!).
Oxford Dictionary defines spam as ”Irrelevant or unsolicited messages sent over the Internet, typically to large numbers of users, for the purposes of advertising, phishing, spreading malware, etc.” That doesn’t mean that your email newsletter is spam, because it may not technically unsolicited. Go ahead and send them out, providing you have consent, be it express or implied consent.
Express consent is pretty simple: the receiver said, “Yes! I want to subscribe to your newsletter, or receive promotional messages from you!” and you have record of that consent. Implied consent is a bit more complex, but essentially can be given in three main ways:
- The contact information of the receiver was either given to you or published in plain sight. If given to you (such as on a business card) or published (such as on a website), make sure to check for any “Do Not Contact” instructions.
- You have an existing business relationship with the receiver.The recipient has made, or inquired about, a purchase or lease of goods, services, land or interest in land, a written contract or the acceptance of a business, investment or gaming opportunity from you.
- You have an existing non-business relationship with the receiver.You are a registered charity, a political party or a candidate, and the recipient has provided you a gift, a donation or volunteer work, or you are a club, association or voluntary organization and the recipient is one of your members.
But that’s not it! Keep in mind that there is a 36-month “transition period” to allow businesses to adjust and obtain consent. If you have implied consent, you may continue to send messages within the three year period; however, once the transition period is over, you will need to have express consent, or implied consent from within the previous two years from the receiver. You may have noticed many organizations have already been sending out “re-opt-in” emails - asking recipients to give express consent to receive messages. Not only is it not necessary if you already have express consent (or implied during the transition period), asking for re-opt-ins can dramatically reduce your mailing list, according to many Canadian web professionals.
One last bit of legislation to be aware of that isn’t new to CASL: One of the other requirements of any commercial electronic message you send out is that you need to expressly identify your business and give receivers of your message the option to unsubscribe. They need to know who the message is coming from, and have the ability to stop the messages from coming to them.
How did we do with this article? If you want more information, check out the CASL website (it’s an amazing resource!), or pop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have.