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Touted as one of the aggressive and strict anti-spam laws in the world, Canada’s CASL (Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation) is slated to come into full effect July 01, 2014. If you are planning an email or sms/text campaign in Canada, you should make sure you are clearly versed with the new regulations. Even organizations located outside of Canada who send messages to computers or smart phones within Canada will need to be CASL compliant.

And the fines are steep—up to $10 million per violation, and companies that intentionally mislead recipients with false sender information could potentially face criminal charges.

While the US CAN-SPAM Act uses opt-out consent (i.e., using an unsubscribe mechanism), CASL requires “opt-in” consent. Businesses will need expressed consent even if they already have an existing business relationship. The legislation covers messages to email addresses and text messages sent to cell phones.

To stay compliant, businesses will have to identify themselves in their messages and clearly express the recipient’s opt-in and opt-out options. All messaging has to be transparent and clearly represent the product or service being promoted. As well, the message has to be relevant and applicable to the recipient.

How does CASL affect third party e-mails? Under the new regulations, consent to receive third-party emails is only valid if recipients can unsubscribe from the message and alert the original organization that they’ve withdrawn their consent. If this happens, the original organization must notify each third-party that consent has been withdrawn and to remove the address.

CASL is being implemented so that consumers can control who can send them commercial emails. This has some businesses worried that this spells the beginning of the end for their email marketing efforts in Canada.

Not so.

Any legitimate business sending out emails is going to want to provide clear and concise information about their company and what it is they are offering. As for obtaining consent and being relevant, there’s not much point in emailing someone who has no interest in receiving your messages so it would make sense for businesses to want their email lists to be compliant.

CASL is supposed to deter ‘spammers’. We’ll just have to wait and see if the legislation is effective in that aspect. As for businesses genuinely trying to market to consumers, the new legislation is going to mean that they are going to have to be a little more diligent in making sure their databases are up to date and compliant, that their messages are clear and have the proper contact info and that their campaigns are more targeted. All of which is just going to aid in the effectiveness of their email campaigns and make them more successful.