CRTC issues the regulations that must be followed by businesses sending out any electronic messages. The new rules have been a long time coming.

Canada’s anti-spam regulations finally unveiled

Canadian e-mail marketers now have the final regulations that will be enforced under Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) that was passed into law more than a year ago.

The regulations don’t just impact e-mail. All electronic messages are covered by the law, including instant messages, a telephone account, or any similar account.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) released the final regulations this afternoon after months of consulting stakeholders. About 60 associations, companies, and organizations provided comments on the anti-spam legislation, and so did 10 individuals, the CRTC says.

Many of the parties complained the original regulations demanded too much contact information to be included in an e-mail message. As a result, the CRTC is reducing the amount of contact information that must be supplied.

The CRTC is also easing up on consent rules for commercial e-mails. The law’s major impact for businesses is that they must now have prior consent from a person before sending them an e-mail.

It’s okay to take oral consent as a green light to send e-mail messages, the CRTC says. Also, it’s no longer a requirement to provide an ability to unsubscribe from receiving messages in just two clicks of a mouse.

But the CRTC is sticking to its guns on requiring separate consent for different types of commercial requests. For example, a business may not install a computer program that results in e-mail being sent from that person’s computer. Such a tactic is a favourite method of spammers, who build out botnets to create a viral spread of their messages.

Based on the feedback, the CRTC is also ditching a two-click requirement for unsubscribing from e-mail lists. The rule that e-mail recipients should be able to stop receiving messages within two clicks of a mouse was deemed too technology-specific, the CRTC says. Instead, “any unsubscribe mechanism should be accessed without difficulty or delay, and should be simple, quick, and easy for the consumer to use.”

With the government’s spam reporting centre (known as “The Freezer”) set up and final regulations in place, it’s likely the anti-spam law will soon start being enforced. CRTC will share enforcement duties with the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and the Competition Bureau.

Funding for the enforcement may be listed in the Conservative government’s budget being unveiled tomorrow.

Here’s a list of some of the new regulations that businesses should be aware of:

Information required in commercial e-mails

  • The name of the business, or the person conducting business. If the message is sent on behalf of another business, the e-mail must contain the name of that business or person.
  • The mailing address, either a phone number that connects to a live agent or voice mail system, and an e-mail address or a Web address.
  • If it’s not practicable to include that information, or an unsubscribe option in the e-mail, it can be posted on a Web page. The link must be clearly set out in the message and come at no cost to the recipient.

Information to be included in request for consent

  • May be sought either orally or in writing.
  • The name of the business, or the person conducting business. If the message is sent on behalf of another business, the e-mail must contain the name of that business or person.
  • The mailing address, either a phone number that connects to a live agent or voice mail system, and an e-mail address or a Web address.
  • Inform the person whose consent is sought that they may withdraw their consent.

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