How to comply with the new Canadian Anti-Spam Law

Posted on June 23, 2014 at 8:22 am Written by

The Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL) takes effect July 1, 2014. This law regulates the sending of commercial electronic messages (CEMs) to anyone in Canada. Those sending a CEM must get the consent of those they are sending the messages to. They also must identify who they are and provide an unsubscribe method for those who do not want to receive any more CEMs from the sender. Failure to comply can result in fines of up to $1 million for individuals and $10 million for companies, and even jail time for those found in violation of the law.

The law applies to any company that sends CEMs to anyone in Canada. Businesses trying to determine what they need to do to conform to the new law might benefit from the CakeMail resource, Guide to Understanding the Canadian Anti-Spam Law.

“There’s been a lot of confusion about CASL,” says CakeMail CEO Francois Lane. “This new legislation affects all businesses that email anyone in Canada, even those based in the U.S.” Or in the United Kingdom.


CEM. A CEM, according to CASL, is any message intended to encourage receivers to participate in a commercial activity. Mostly, this includes any marketing, promotional, and advertising correspondence. Not only must companies get the consent of those they send CEMs to, the burden falls upon them to prove that the consent was actually received.

Consent. Consent, according to the CASL, can be either expressed or implied. Furthermore, those who request consent must do so clearly and simply, setting forth the purpose for the consent, who they are, and if they seek it on someone else’s behalf, who that party is. When in a business or personal relationship with the CEM receiver the consent is considered implied, though an existing business relationship requires the client to purchase or lease a product or service. This must occur within a two-year period prior to the CEM being sent.

Unsubscribing. Another option for those receiving emails is the ability to unsubscribe. Additionally, the message should include an unsubscribe method that is clear, prominent, and easy to access. And even though the law’s language might not be exactly clear, it does state that the whole process be consumer friendly.

Getting CASL-Ready

Ultimately, CakeMail recommends the following steps when getting CASL-Ready:

  1. Know where all your contacts are based.
  2. Get proof of consent for every contact.
  3. Know the difference between “express” and “implied” consent.
  4. Provide an unsubscribe mechanism in every CEM.

“People haven’t realized the impact it will have on their business,” says Lloyd Longfield, president of the Guelph Chamber of Commerce, as quoted by the “We are trying to bring the message home that this is something we have to hit hard and hit fast, because most businesses will find themselves out of compliance with their communications.”

This article was written by Cheryl Knight and was first published on the Business Solutions website.

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