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New Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation

May 06, 2014



It is hard to believe, but 15 years have already passed since Seth Godin originally coined the term Permission Marketing. In that time the philosophy of providing valuable content and information to consumers in exchange for their email address has become commonplace for marketers. However, for those who have held off on embracing an inbound strategy to this point, it certainly appears that now is the time.

July 1, 2014, is not only the day to celebrate Canada this year but will also mark the introduction of the new Canadian Anti-Spam act. Although this law will not eliminate spam altogether, the goal is for Canada as a country to drop out of the top 10 spam originating counties, as Australia did after similar legislation was introduced in 2004. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has organized these regulations to reduce the number of Commercial Electronic Messages (CEM) that are being sent without consent as well as CEMs that contain false or misleading information to help protect Canadians from spam, malware, including phishing and spyware, and other electronic threats.

Spam includes more than unsolicited commercial messages, it extends to include but are not limited to spam, malware, spyware, address harvesting and false and misleading representations involving the use of any means of telecommunications, Short Message Services (SMS), social networking, websites, URL's and other locators, applications, blogs, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), and any other current and future internet and wireless telecommunication threats.

When it comes to sending out CEMs, make sure to comply to the following rules (and make sure when you are receiving information via email or text that the organizations are following these as well).

•  Consent: You have must have expressed or implied consent to send a message.

•  Identification: You must clearly and simply identify yourselves and anyone else on whose behalf the message is sent.

•  Unsubscribe Mechanism: In every message you send, you must provide a way for recipients to unsubscribe from receiving messages in the future.

Consent can be implied through an existing business relationship, but that implied consent ends two years after the business deal ended. The business also has to be able to prove the deal and track the timing for instances such as these. Some exceptions that have been noted that include organizations that engage in commercial activities with people who have made a donation or given a gift in the last 18 months, volunteered or performed volunteer work in the last 18 months, that pertain to registered charities, political parties and candidates in federal, provincial, territorial or municipal elections.

Companies and organizations are allowed to collect and compile an email list granted that they gain consent upon sign up, follow the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), include contact information and allow users to unsubscribe. Most popular email marketing solutions have the function to allow users to opt-out when they wish. When collecting emails I found this resource useful and this one too!

The key things you want to identify, put together by Elite Email are:

Beware when sending an email to another person through, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter when the purpose is attempting to sell a product or service as this is considered a CEM under the CASL. 

The penalties for each violation can be up to $1-million for an individual and up to $10-million for companies which is going to be enforced by the CRTC, the office of the privacy commissioner, and the Competition Bureau. Always seek legal assistance when referring to conducting in CEM, these fines are steep and can be avoided by following regulations set by the CRTC.

Even with these laws in place it is important for you to remain educated and aware to keep yourself safe online personally or for your business. When you receive items that you believe are spam delete the emails, after July 1 you will be able to report at the Spam Reporting Centre.

When looking up information make sure to use trusted sources including government websites to look up information on laws, look for URL's that end with .gc.ca (aka official), some of the useful sources I found were: Fight ScamGlobe and MailBusiness Financial Post and Elite Email.

Chimp Alyssa

Alyssa Freeman
Account Services & Content Generation
Follow me @missalyssss


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