June 10, 2014 8:04 pm

Spam, spam, spam: Canada’s new email law may pose challenges

Canada’s New Anti-Spam law, known as CASL, takes effect July 1 but many businesses are struggling to be in compliance in time for the deadline.

“It rocks the whole landscape and affects everyone who does email and text message marketing,” said Robert Burko, President of elite email, a Toronto-based email marketing service provider.

He says the company has been inundated for weeks with calls from clients trying to make sure they are following the new rules.

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“This is a law that goes live July 1…and they don’t know what to do. That’s a big problem,” Burko said.

Dina Maxwell, a lawyer with the Toronto firm Blaney McMurtry LLP, says there are millions of reasons businesses should follow the law.

“The maximum penalty is $10 million per contravention so the potential for a high administrative fine is there,” Maxwell said, adding individuals who breach the law face maximum fines of $1 million. Her firm has been busy advising clients about the new rules, considered some of the toughest in the world.

Under the new law, businesses who send commercial electronic messages, or CEMs, are required to get permission from those who receive their solicitations. If you’re on a mailing list for Air Canada, for example, the airline will be asking you to confirm you still want to receive notices of seat sales or other promotions. This is called explicit consent.

But companies can also rely on implied consent to justify sending messages if you are a recent customer.

“In the context of existing business relationships active in the last two years, and non-business relationships in the last two years,” said Maxwell, who says her firm is encouraging companies to keep a “client relationship manager” – a data base that keeps track of the messages a company sends to a client and the nature of the consent.

After July 1, messages must include an unsubscribe button making it easier for a consumer to get off the mailing list. Messages must also include the name of the company sending the message, their address and other contact information.

Burko says many companies have a lot of work to do prior to the deadline: “The biggest challenge businesses are going to be facing is what they were able to do before July 1st, they aren’t able to do after July 1st.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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