Hate SPAM? Well then this CASL may be for you!

If you have “had it up to here” with SPAM email, next week our neighbors up north (specifically.. Canada) have implemented new, much more stringent legislation on the creation of “commercial” electronic mail.

Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) establishes rules for the sending of commercial electronic messages (CEMs) to others. While this is Canadian law we are talking about here, eh, it also means that unless you can PROVE that the person who just signed up for your email newsletter does not live in Canada, YOU will have to follow this rule.

So.. Who and what is covered by CASL?

CASL applies to everyone—individuals, incorporated and unincorporated businesses, not-for-profit organizations, etc.—who sends electronic messages for commercial purposes to recipients located in Canada.
Under CASL, electronic messages can include emails, SMS text messages, instant messages and messages sent through social networks.
CASL defines a CEM as a message that encourages participation in a commercial activity. This includes advertisements and information about promotions, offers, business opportunities, events, etc.

CASL Requirements

Clear Identification
All CEMs, including a request for consent, must include clear identification of the sending party. This is defined as:
The name of the person and/or business sending the message, and on whose behalf the message is being sent if that is different from the sender. (OK, most small businesses who use commercial email or email marketing programs like Mail Chimp or Constant Contact are compliant here)

Provide contact information for either of those persons. This is defined as a mailing address, as well as an email address and/or telephone number. (A bit more iffy, some internet-only businesses either have no street address or they care not to share their home address with others… see Bash Foo Entrepreneurial Center to fix this one..)

Who fails at this?? Those people who don’t have those huge email signature files. So if you send emails and end it with “Thanks, Fred” you are NOT going to be compliant.

That little thing called: Express Consent

The concept of ‘Express Consent’ as opposed to ‘Implied Consent’ is a key difference between CASL and existing legislation such as the American CAN-Spam act. There are three facets to acquiring ‘Express Consent’ from a recipient under CASL:

  • No pre-checked ‘opt-in’ check-boxes are permitted.
  • A ‘Request for Consent’ is required.
  • The request for consent must clearly state the purposes for which consent is sought, as well as clearly identify the party requesting consent. This must either be present immediately next to the opt-in checkbox, or be part of a double opt-in confirmation message.

CASL provides that any express consent obtained before July 1, 2014 will be compliant, even if the request does not meet all of the post-July 1 content requirements. This means that if you currently have double opt-in enabled your pre-existing leads will not be affected by CASL.

So, basically, if your email marketing programs enable DOUBLE opt-in you will be OK. An example of Double Opt-In.

  1. Someone visits your website and you have them fill out a form.
  2. That person receives an email thanking them for filling out the form, and that by doing so they are consenting that your company will begin and continue to email them.
  3. That person clicks a link in that email, visits your email marketing page again, and from there clicks “YES I want to Subscribe.”

So it’s sort of like that old Microsoft prompt that says “Are you sure you want to do this”.

Unsubscribe Mechanism

You now must provide some form of mechanism by which the recipient can unsubscribe. Messages generated by most all email marketing software will include unsubscribe links by default, but be aware that this also applies to messages manually sent to leads with whom you have not yet formed a business relationship.

What is exempt from these rules?

  • The sender and recipient have an existing business relationship.
    • eg: the recipient has made a purchase within the past two years, or an inquiry within the past two months.
  • The sender and recipient have an existing non-business relationship.
  • The recipient has disclosed their electronic address directly to the sender, has not expressly stated that they do not wish to receive unsolicited messages, and the message is related to the recipient’s business or official capacity.

Bottom-Line.. Are you going to be compliant on July 1st, 2014

  • Are your subscription checkboxes pre-checked?
  • Do all of your email signatures include a full business address, as well as a phone number or email address?
  • Do all of your templates include a {signature} tag?

References

http://www.chamber.ca/resources/casl/
http://fightspam.gc.ca/


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