Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL), the anti-spam bill that targets businesses that send email and other digital messages to people without permission, will start coming into effect July 1, 2014, according to an order made today by the federal government.

The bill gained Royal Assent in December 2010 but has been in limbo while debate around its exact regulations was at issue. Businesses wondering what exemptions would apply to sending email and what they would be required to do to gain permission to send email now have a more clear picture. The legislation carries penalties that start lower for first-time offenders, but can go as high as $1 million in fines for an individual and $10 million for companies. But businesses will have time to get ready for many of the new regulations in CASL as some do not come into effect in 2015 and 2017.

Industry Minister James Moore announced the finalized regulations and deadlines for coming into force today. It’s the final steps to a process that started in 2004 and is being described by some as the world’s most stringent anti-spam law. There will be three agencies responsible for enforcing CASL – the Competition Bureau of Canada, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

Excuses for wait around to implement CASL compliance have just evaporated, according to Robert Burko, president of Elite Email. There’s now a definitive deadline to make sure you’re following all the rules.

“While this new timeline is sure to send shockwaves through the marketing community… it could actually help legitimate marketers,” he writes in an e-mail to ITBusiness.ca. “The key thing on everyone’s mind should be making sure that over the next eight months, proper consent (as defined by CASL) is secured for everyone on your mailing list.”

First to come into effect next year are most of the regulations outlined in the act, which prevent sending an electronic message to person unless consent was received or implied. The messages must also identify the sender of the message, make the sender available for contact, and have an unsubscribe mechanism.

It’s important to keep in mind the obvious exceptions to CASL. Personal messages are not affected, of course, and messages sent within an organization are not affected.

Exceptions also include:

* Messages between organizations that already have a relationship
* Messages sent for legal reasons, messages sent on behalf of registered charities
* Messages sent on behalf of a political party or candidate
* Messages that are sent based on a referral made by a third party
* Messages sent to existing family and personal relationships

While the bulk of the act will be in place within eight months, there are other aspects that will roll out over the next three years.

“It sort of appears like the government is doing a slow roll out of CASL enforcement,” Burko says. “At the outset, it seems like it will be the government enforcing the administrative monetary penalty, whereas in July 2017, individuals may apply to the courts to seek compensation for CASL violations.”

Regulations coming into effect Jan. 15, 2015 are those pertaining to computer program. Finally, on Jan. 15, 2017, regulations around the Private Right of Action will come into effect.

 

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