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Canada's Anti-Spam Law Comes Into Effect July 1... Now What?

You may have heard that Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) will take effect on July 1st, 2014.  Now that the government has announced the date by which sanctions begin, associations need to assess how it applies to them, and what to do about it.

The best advice that I can give to those who are not sure where to start is to think strategically, and start from the beginning, so you are not scrambling close to the deadline to ensure that you have tracked everything correctly.

What is CASL?

This legislation applies to any commercial electronic message that promotes your organization or even just informs recipients. Examples include emails or texts that:

  • Promote a product or service;
  • Invite recipients to sponsor, attend or exhibit at a conference or event;
  • Solicit a prospect to join your organization.

Not only do you have to be careful about what you are sending, but you have to be careful about who you are sending it to.  That's because the law says you can only send an electronic message if you have the recipient's consent first:

  • Express consent is the communication agreement you have with an individual member, exhibitor, or sponsor. If these contacts have bought or something from your association in the last two years, they are deemed to have explicitly agreed to receive electronic communication from you.  Any recipients whose last transaction is more than two years ago must be contacted for express consent.
  • Implied consent on the other hand is a tentative agreement between you and a prospective member or other stakeholder.  They may have attended an information session, or dropped a business card off at your booth at a tradeshow.  This agreement has an expiry date, which after July 1st, 2014, is just six months from the date of the initial contact.  After six months, if you don't have express consent, you must stop communication.

Obtaining Consent:  Get express consent wherever possible, and once you have it, have the mechanisms in place to confirm, and obtain communication interests and preferences.

Managing Information in Your Database:  In the event of a complaint, you will have to provide the data to back up your claim of consent.  Ensure that your CRM is capable of keeping a field to indicate whether consent was express or implied, and the date it was obtained, along with any other information relating to the recipient's preferences.

Identification and Ongoing Communication Requirements:  Ensure that your messages contain the correct contact information required by the legislation, whether it is sent by you or your third party provider.
Unsubscribes and Revoking Consent:  If a recipient of your messages wants to revoke consent (i.e. wants to unsubscribe), the process to do so must be easy and clearly laid out.  To ensure that the process is seamless, we recommend ensuring that your email marketing software is connected to your CRM.

For more information on the Anti-Spam Legislation, please visit, or download our Tips and Best Practices for Associations on preparing for CASL.