News | June 23, 2017

CASL Transition Period Ends July 1st: What You Need to Know

Back in 2014, Canada’s Anti Spam Legislation (CASL) was introduced to ensure that anyone receiving emails from your organization had provided you with express consent to do so. But now, the transition period is ending.

As part of that legislation, a three-year transitional period was allowed that included provisions for implied consent.

Implied consent refers to an implied reason why someone expressed an interest in receiving email from you and only applied when:

  • There was an existing business relationship within the last two (2) years (for example, through the purchase of goods or services);
  • An inquiry about goods or services had been made within the past six (6) months;
  • If, as a charity or political organization, the individual had made a donation, volunteered or attended a meeting you’d organized.

In all other cases, expressed consent had to be obtained in order to communicate with an individual and it had to contain the following:

  • Purpose for which consent was being obtained;
  • Types of messages that were to be sent;
  • Name and contact information of individual or organization requesting consent;
  • Statement notifying the recipient of the option to unsubscribe at any time.

Current CASL Laws

Since July 2014, in order to send a recipient commercial email communication, the following (4) conditions had to be met by the sender:

  1. Have express consent from the recipient of the email;
  2. Clearly identify both the sender of the email and the organization on whose behalf the email is being sent;
  3. Include a valid mailing address for all senders of the email and at least one of the following – telephone number, email or website address;
  4. Include a clear, prominent and easy to perform unsubscribe feature that will remove the recipient from the mailing list within 10 days.

We’re nearing the end of the transition period when it will no longer be acceptable for businesses to rely on implied consent for commercial communications.

What’s Changing?

As of July 1st of this year, all commercial electronic communication – including emails, SMS and messages sent via social media – will be required to have express consent. Implied consent is allowed but must be restricted to a specific timeframe (noted above) and only unless certain exceptions are met.

For example, if someone requested information from you, you have implied consent to communicate with them but only for six months. After the 6 months you either have to remove them from your list or ask them to opt in to receive email and other communication from you. In other words, you must ensure the contacts on your email lists have given you consent to email them commercial messages. (Note this doesn’t include personal emails between you and a client.)

You can obtain expressed consent by adding a check box to any forms on your website (defaulted to be un-checked) that says, “I’d like to receive email communications”, like the example shown below. Or you can send out an email to your email database asking them to update their preferences to make sure that you have received expressed consent from your recipients.

Legislation in the United States

If you are a Canadian company sending commercial electronic messages to recipients in the United States, you must comply with the laws of CAN-SPAM. As long as you comply with the spam laws of the country you are sending to, you are exempt from CASL. If you are a foreign company who is sending commercial electronic messages to Canada, CASL applies.

The Bottom Line

So long as you ensure your email contacts have either given expressed consent or you have implied consent and you put procedures in place, like developing an automation program, to be able to manage implied consent expirations, you have nothing to worry about.

However, there are fines if you do not comply with CASL standards. These penalties range from $1 million for individuals to $10 million for businesses. It’s a good idea to review your email lists and conduct regular audits to make sure your email database meets the requirements of the law.

If you feel like you need extra guidance and advice on this subject, feel free to get in touch with us and let us help you review your email lists to ensure your contacts are getting the relevant, meaningful content that they actually want to receive.

For a review of the legislation from the Government of Canada, please visit the official CASL website.