A Few Short Days to Get Your Email Program in Order – Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) takes effect on July 1st, 2014

The clock is ticking to make sure all Canadian businesses and organizations that use email marketing, or send electronic messages of any kind, are compliant with Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation or CASL. The deadline is July 1st, 2014, which gives businesses a little over a week.


The new law governs the distribution of commercial electronic messages (CEM) and includes email, texts, and instant messages.  Tweeting and posting in social media is still allowed.  However, if you use Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn to send emails directly to an individual that are commercial in nature, then it is covered under CASL.

CASL introduces the notion of consent.  You must have it in order to continue sending email or related CEM.  What is it?

Implied Consent:

  • The person receiving the email has done business with you in the past 24 months.  This includes charitable and political donations.
  • The person receiving the email is doing so in a professional context and their email address is publicly available.

Express Consent:

  • The person receiving the email has given you direct permission to send them email or related electronic communication.

How do you get consent?

If you don’t have implied consent, you can get express consent either through written or oral means.  Many organizations have been sending emails directly asking for express consent to continue receiving email communication.  This must be completed before July 1st, 2014.  If you don’t have express consent by July 1st, you will need to get it via telephone or by mail (I know….).

What are the penalties for not complying?

The penalties will be harsh.  Each violation can be up to $1 million for an individual and $10 million for companies.  As of July 1st, 2017, people can also start taking legal action and suing companies if they violate the law.


  1. Take a look at your email list and see if you can segment them into the implied or expressly consented categories.  If you can’t, or it takes too long, treat the entire list as needing express consent (better safe than sorry).
  2. Create a very simple email that asks for express consent.  Here are a couple of examples for your reference. The email must contain your name, the purpose of the email, your physical mailing address, and a way for recipients to unsubscribe.
  3. If you’re using social media, send a tweet or post also asking for consent.
  4. Face the hard facts.  As marketers who may rely on email to get your message out, there is no way that everyone on your list will give you consent.
  5. Be aggressive in rebuilding your list.  Ensure that email sign up is easily accessible on your website, social media and even the bottom of your regular email.  Look for opportunities to ask prospects, clients and acquaintances to sign up for your email communication.  Direct them to your sign up page.
  6. Continue to use email best practices.

For more information on CASL and the requirements for businesses, please check out these links: here, here and here.

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