Today began the first day of Canada’s new Anti-Spam laws (CASL). While it has been ramping up for a few months, there has not been a huge amount of discussion about it; and considering the aggressive and serious nature of the CASL, I find that a bit odd.
But discussion or not, it’s here; and it will certainly have a direct impact in the Digital Marketing community. The CASL is strict, and the penalties are steep. What does this mean to Digital Marketers – E-mail Marketers, in particular? If you are an Email Marketer in Canada, or an Email Marketer sending messages to Canada, the days of unrestricted implied consent are over. In other words, you better be real, REAL sure that whomever you are emailing in Canada has given you their express consent, (and not in a round-about, “click here to receive offers from our partners” way, either) else, there will be consequences. Those who find themselves not in compliance with the new CASL will be hit with fines up to $10M per violation. Or worse: organizations that intentionally mislead recipients or use false sender info can be slapped with criminal charges.
CASL Compliance for the Digital Marketing Community
Based on information provided by the Canadian Government’s FightSpam website, the DMA and EmailExperience Council, and other resources that we will provide, the following is high-line overview of the best practices for remaining compliant.
STEP 1: Take a look at your data!
Have a good understanding of where your email addresses come from and what type of consent you received from them.
STEP 2: Understand what CASL means by “Commercial Message”
By “Commercial Message,” CASL is referring to any commercial electronic message (also referred to as CEMs) such as Email, SMS, etc., that encourages or requires participation in a commercial activity.
STEP 3: ALWAYS Get the Consent of your Subscribers
There are 2 ways to obtain consent, either expressly or implied. If you received express consent before July 1, 2014 then just make sure you have records to support that. You do not need to re-confirm consent prior to CASL.
STEP 4: Include Disclosures When Asking for Consent
You must let the recipients know clearly, the type of messages you’ll be sending (marketing, promotional, etc.), and the opt-in must involve a separate action for the consumer, and cannot be bundled in with consent for terms and conditions.
Step Five: Create a Compliant Unsubscribe Process
Clearly identify yourself in CEM, and provide a method for recipient to readily contact you.
Step Six: Continue to Follow Some Basic Rules of CAN-SPAM
The basic rules of thumb under CAN-SPAM are a good guide. Many of the rules regarding sender address and deceptive emails is applicable.
Step Seven: Installing Software
Express consent is also required if installing a computer program/software on someone else’s device. The CASL enforcement date begins January 15, 2015. For any software installed prior to January 15, 2015, there will be a three year transitional period.
Step Eight: Penalties & Enforcement
Three Canadian Enforcement Agencies are working together to promote, investigate and enforce CASL: The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC); Competition Bureau; and Office of Privacy Commission. Additionally, these Agencies will be working with the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission.
The DMA has created a very thorough guide for Digital Marketers and contains thorough details of all of these requirements. They are included in the resources below.