Canada Cracks Down On Spam: What Marketers Need To Know

Everyone hates blatant spam. Filters catch most of it, but everyone still gets offers for wholesale handbags and or miraculous pharmaceuticals now and then. Apparently our neighbors to the north are sick of it and have implemented a law to help clear their citizens’ inboxes. Canada recently released information on it’s new Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL).

Beyond annoyance with spammers, the Canadian government said that protecting against spam, spyware and malware slows down networks and eats up resources that could be dedicated elsewhere. CASL helps protect Canadian citizens and saves Canadian businesses money. Though it won’t eradicate spam completely, it is expected to decrease the problem significantly and the Canadian government expects spammers will refocus their efforts on other, more vulnerable markets.

The law, which takes affect July 1, 2014, contains notable differences between the US laws with which many marketers are already familiar. The new law will impact any businesses or individual that sends electronic messages to Canadians encouraging them to participation in a “commercial activity.

What Marketers Need to Know

+ Opt-in & opt-out: US laws require you to provide an opt-out or unsubscribe link. CASL takes it a step further and requires anyone sending messages to Canadians to obtain consent from the recipient before sending their message. That means they have to opt-in first and you have still have to include a way for them to unsubscribe too.
+ Impacts more than just email: This law encompasses more than just email messages. It also includes any form of telecommunication, SMS, social networking, websites, apps, and any other form of internet and wireless telecommunication. US laws deal mainly with email at this time.
+ Thou shalt not lie:  CASL prohibits anyone from sending a message that contains a header or subject line that contains false or misleading information.

You’re not a spammer, (at least we hope not, and if you are shame on you!) but you still need to be prepared for the law that starts July 1, 2014. It may take some time to adjust to the changes to it is best to start now.

What Marketers Should Start Doing Today

+ Are they Canadian?: Segment your current data to ensure you know exactly which customers or prospects these laws will affect.
+ Get them to opt-in: Send them a campaign asking them to specifically opt-in or re-subscribe to the content you send. Even if they have done so in the past it’s best to make sure they still want to receive your communications.
+ Country field in form submissions: As you move forward, you may want to add a country field so you can accurately identify and segment people who fill out your web forms.
+ Update your fine print: Make any necessary changes in your legal documents to reflect CASL.

As you can see, there’s no need to be concerned as long as you are diligent with your data and you fully understand the law. If you have questions or concerns about CASL, list segmentation, opt-ins, etc. contact your email service provider and they should be able to help.

Photo Credit Flickr: David Wise-Flag Flap