CASL, What you need to Know

The legal and business communities are buzzing, with the new “Canada Anti-Spam Laws,” (CASL) that’s implementation will begin this July, carrying through to 2017. Law firms have focused on educating their staff and clients to the potential ramifications, with the focus of the legislation, being directed at the use of electronic messages by commercial businesses.

The stated purpose of these new laws is to, “…promote the efficiency and adaptability of the Canadian economy.” However, the oldest story in law and life is the necessity to strike a balance, the balance in this case, between restrictive and or regulatory measures on business conduct.

No one wants to be inundated with spam, but people also don’t want to receive the ten phone calls a day from big companies and telemarketers, still we do, because rather than putting restrictive measures on business, they made regulations. Regulations, that laid out specific times they could call, rather than making it virtually impossible for them to cold-call.

The new legislation has laid out specific requirements for the message itself. (I.E. unsubscribe link, valid postal address) and no longer can consent be achieved, through Terms and Conditions, or pre-checked boxes on forms. They highlight 4 different ways of garnering consent, including explicit, implied, conspicuous publication, and shared e-mail address with the sender, although do make some exemptions.

The penalties for non-compliance are pretty stiff as well, with individuals being fined up to $1 million and corporations, up to $10 million. Legislators have gone so far as to set the groundwork for allowing individuals or groups to launch civil actions, and making officers of organizations accountable.

Nonetheless, there has been an underlying theme in people writing about CASL, questioning how exactly this is going to stop spammers. The new rules are strict and broad, (The new law will also apply to charities/non-profits if they are attempting to sell anything) but most commercial entities already attempt to comply with the new rules, thru programs like Chimp Mail and Elite Mail.

By restricting marketing practises, a tool of commercial business, it would seem they are doing less to create more efficiency for Canadian businesses, but instead making it trickier to reach your audience, stifling small businesses ability to grow. The law creates barriers for legitimate businesses, while doing nothing to target the worst spammers (I.E. Hackers & Fraud).

One Toronto lawyer, in Marketing Magazine, went so far as to call the new legislation, “Draconian” stating that the problem with the bill, “…starts from an approach that says commercial speech is illegal in this country, rather than from an approach that says ‘Let’s try and identify harmful speech.”

As it stands, most feel the new legislation will have little impact on your spam folder, and little will change in terms those who have ill will towards your computer or bank account. With companies and businesses preparing for the new restrictions, marketers are at the ready to find new solutions and bridge the gap to reach their audience.

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