Key Provisions of Canada's New Anti-Spam Law (CASL)

The Association of Strategic Marketing
May 30, 2012 — 1,327 views  
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Since e-mail has been a mainstream communication method, spam has been filling up inboxes around the world. Canadian government officials have recently implemented a strategic law to stop unwanted e-mails. Although the Canada Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) is not yet in force, it has already been called the toughest anti-spam law in the world.

CASL, also known as Bill C-28, was signed into law on December 15, 2010, and final regulations from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission were issued on March 28, 2012. The provisions of this aggressive anti-spam law will be in force once a date is set by the Governor in Council.

The purpose of this law is to crack down on spammers, criminal enterprises and unethical companies who send spam to Canada, from Canadian computers or through Canadian networks. Spam isn’t just an everyday annoyance. Criminals distribute spoof e-mails, create phishing scams and unleash viruses that gather sensitive information. Under CASL, governing bodies will investigate reports of spam and impose strict fines.

The Canadian government is deterring spammers by imposing fines of up to $750,000 for individuals or $10 million for corporate entities. It will also be investigating reports of spam through a non-government agency known as the Spam Reporting Centre, which will be working with the Competition Bureau, the Privacy Commissioner, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission and international spam-fighting partners.

According to estimates, spam accounts for 75 percent of e-mail traffic. This slows down networks and costs millions to fight. In addition to lowering the number of unwanted electronic communications, CASL will reduce the amount of time and money needed to combat these activities. This new law affects companies and individuals who send unsolicited commercial electronic messages (CEMs). These include social media marketing materials, SMS messages and cell phone spam.

Companies are permitted to continue sending legitimate marketing materials if a consumer has opted in first or the parties have an existing business relationship; furthermore, non-commercial entities, including political groups, charities and non-profits, are exempt from CASL regulations as long as they are not promoting products or marketing goods. Companies are authorized to collect e-mail distribution lists provided they follow updated federal and provincial privacy laws and consumers have granted permission to receive related e-mails. The goal of the Canada Anti-Spam Legislation is to curb the distribution of unwanted e-mails and to keep Canada out of the list of top spam-distributing nations.

The Association of Strategic Marketing