Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation

The team here at Outhouse IT Recently asked our outsourced legal Department at Conduit Law“what do we need to know about the Canadian anti-spam legislation that takes affect on July 1st?”
The answer was so concise we wanted to share it with you so we asked the team at Conduit Law if it would be OK for us to redistribute their Small Business Law newsletter to our Small Business IT Clientele, so here you are!

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ANTI SPAM LEGISLATION CANADA

 Three things you need to know about Anti-Spam Legislation Canada:

Imagine the scene: It’s been a long day at the office, and you just want to pack up and go home. Before you get up to leave, you decide to open an official looking letter from the Federal government. It’s a notice of infraction from the government. Your company is accused of sending spam emails and infringing new anti-spam legislation. The fine is significant. This is serious. Welcome to the new world of anti-spam legislation Canada.

This fictional scenario might seem farfetched, but it is not. As of July 1, 2014, a comprehensive and potentially punitive regime comes into force with new anti-spam legislation in Canada.

The following are three important things that you need to know in order to avoid such a dreaded scenario.

1. The new “opt-in” clause:

Your first priority is to add an “opt-in” clause to your outgoing marketing emails. The anti-spam legislation Canada has added this requirement for outgoing emails. In the past marketers could rely on the “unsubscribe” button. This is no longer sufficient. Canadian law requires that your mailing list ask for the emails by opting in. Anti-spam legislation Canada introduces the need for the new “opt-in” clause, one that prohibits the sending of any business related “commercial electronic message” (CEM), or “any electronic message that encourages participation in a commercial activity”, without the recipient’s prior consent.

This opt-in scenario obviously changes the equation and puts the on onus on you to demonstrate consent to receiving your marketing emails.

2. How to handle your current mailing list:

The time to act is now. Until July 1, 2014, you can send an email message to your mailing list requesting that your clients, subscribers and newsletter recipients “opt in” to receive future emails. After July 1, 2014, simply sending the request will be considered spam and will be against the law and will fall afoul of anti-spam legislation Canada.

A tricky situation that arises is the exchange of business cards at a social gathering, the question being, does the exchange itself constitute consent?  Is the “fishbowl at a conference” method of acquiring business cards sufficient for implied consent? There is no simple answer.

Under the new anti-spam legislation Canada, sending marketing emails without consent is spam and is subject to fines. The only way to avoid the fines is to have actual consent from the recipient and the burden of proof is on you to show consent. The anti-spam law allows for implied consent but this is risky and could result in fines for your business.

Another thing to keep in mind, there is no grandfather clause. You need to obtain consent from everybody currently on your mailing list.

3. Violators, beware! Fines of up to $1 million:

The government is serious about spammers. Anti-spam legislation Canada provides for penalties of up to $1 million for individuals, and corporations are liable for up to $10 million. The legislative objective is compelling, and is meant to send a stern warning to businesses that anybody choosing to break the anti-spam legislation Canada might can face serious punishments.

This is a law with teeth and you can expect the government will find a way to enforce the new rules. Take the time now to ensure that your email messages comply with the anti-spam legislation.

To find out if your email marketing complies with the new anti-spam legislation, please do not hesitate to contact us at Conduit Law. We would be pleased to work with you and your team to update your email policies and ensure compliance with the law.

To speak with a Conduit Law lawyer or to learn more about this topic, CLICK HERE.

This newsletter is not legal advice and provides only an overview of the subject-matter. Receiving this newsletter does not create a solicitor-client relationship and may not be relied upon by you.  The information in this newsletter may not be applicable to your particular circumstances. Always seek specific, qualified and competent legal advice. This newsletter is offered for information purposes alone.

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