Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL)

Although July 1 (2014) was ‘Canada Day’, a statutory holiday in Canada; we saw a new law come into force, known commonly as ‘Canada’s Anti-Spam Law’ (CASL). This law is *sweeping* in its implications and it imposes great costs and risks upon any individual or organization in the country, that uses email to communicate with those outside of their organizations and immediate friends and family.

Most Canadians with email addresses received numerous emails motivated by this legislation, during the run-up to July 1, asking us for our ‘express consent’ to continue receiving various emails. It seemed, far from cutting down on the amount of spam in Canadian’s inboxes; this new law started by causing a rushing flood of spam email. The crush for compliance was coming down quite heavily for at least a couple of weeks; as pretty much any sizeable Canadian business and charitable organization, etc., and a whole gaggle of the smaller ones, tried their level best to stay within the new law, and obtain Canadian’s express consent.

Reportedly, it hasn’t gone well. From what I understand, very few who have received these emails, have ‘clicked-through’ to provide their express consent, leaving many of the senders wondering about their next step.

When the newspapers got wind of the story (relatively late in the game), some articles on the matter appeared in print and online. Some of what was written as the new modus operandi in a post-CASL world was resoundingly rejected by the readership. Organizations and individuals which rely on email communications to prosecute their purposes, were left scrambling for advice and perspective on CASL – not to mention systems that would permit them to perform with efficiency, within this new law. I know, because I was one of them.

 

So, not finding much in the way of good information coming from the news media, and having read all of the ‘lay’ materials produced by the Government and provided through their website on the law here www.fightspam.gc.ca; I did what I felt compelled to do, even though *I’m not a lawyer*. I looked-up the law and read it, very, very carefully.

Then I re-read it again, and was convinced it deserved my closer attention. So, I read it once more, writing extensive notes and comments while I did so, which I eventually massaged into this series of posts.

Please understand that I wasn’t trying to be comprehensive in my efforts to review the CASL, because I was coming at the task from my perspective as an entrepreneur in my specific lines of business. Because not all of CASL has relevance to my particular business interests, I did not parse every paragraph and sub-paragraph of the law.

If you, dear reader, have other business interests and other concerns about CASL, please do add your own posts here as well.

With reference to the full text of CASL which I found online here http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/E-1.6/index.html

 

Note: The law isn’t actually named “Canada’s Anti-Spam Law”. Instead, it has a much more flowery name “An Act to promote the efficiency and adaptability of the Canadian economy by regulating certain activities that discourage reliance on electronic means of carrying out commercial activities, and to amend the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission Act, the Competition Act, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act and the Telecommunications Act”. (Phew!)

I wanted to note that title, because it could be worth it, for us, standing on – the spirit of the law – while the letter of it, might befuddle us. To wit: If there is anything presently discouraging my “reliance on electronic means of carrying out commercial activities” right now, it’s certainly not the spam email that is still flowing into my inbox. Rather, it’s CASL.

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