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Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation: What You Need to Know

June 9, 2014

On July 1, 2014, Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) will come into effect. We’ve done our best to go through the legislation and make note of all the areas that might affect you.

Based on our understanding of the law, here are a few things you need to know. Before making any changes, engage your company’s lawyer to make sure that your company is protected.

What is CASL?
CASL is the new legal framework for commercial interactions with individual customers. Under CASL, businesses are not allowed to send commercial electronic messages to consumers without the following steps in place:

  1. The express consent of the recipient (or in some cases, implied consent)
  2. An unsubscribe option
  3. The identification of the sender

Who Does It Affect?
CASL affects all commercial businesses and organizations, including industry associations.

What Types of Communication Does it Apply to?
All forms of commercial electronic messaging are covered under CASL: email, text messaging, and social media messages. A commercial message is one that directly or indirectly solicits commercial activity.

How Do I Get Express Consent?
Express consent must involve the consumer opting in, and you must be able to maintain record of that event. For example, consumers should click a “subscribe” button on your website in order to receive commercial emails. They might also give oral consent, including by providing their email address to you in person once you’ve disclosed that it will be used for commercial messages. Keep in mind that oral consent is much more difficult to prove, so electronic consent is your safest bet.

Express subscriber consent must be given prior to the implementation of CASL. If you currently send commercial electronic messages to contacts from whom you have not received express consent, you should send them a consent request prior to July 1st to confirm they still wish to receive messages from you.

What is Implied Consent?
In some cases, implied consent may be sufficient for up to two years (unless the recipient withdraws consent before that). If you already have an existing relationship with an individual or company, you may send them commercial electronic messages for up to two years without express consent.

Implied consent also applies to personal and family relationships. You may send commercial messages to family members or close friends without express consent.

Is Consent Needed to Communicate with Another Business?
You may send commercial messages to other businesses without express consent if you already have a business relationship with them, the messages applies to the role or position of the person you are sending it to, and the messages apply to business you are currently conducting with them. You may also send messages to individuals within your own organization so long as it relates to their role or business they are conducting.

This is our understanding of the most fundamental aspects of CASL. Keep in mind, however, that we write code, not law, so we’re still wrapping our heads around some of the finer points. Though we hope this introduction to CASL was able to answer some of your questions, we encourage you to seek more detailed information from the government itself.

If you’d like to discuss the impacts of CASL on your business, and if you need help getting express consent from your contacts, give us a call at (780) 989 0606 or email us at We’d be happy to walk you through the process.