Say Goodbye To (Canadian) Spam

By Ryan Majeau | Posted in my blog for

Canadian Anti-Spam LegislationCome July 1, while Canadians celebrate our country’s birthday, it’s us that get a present! Canada’s new anti-spam legislation (CASL) rolls out in full force. It’s good news for consumers, bad news for small businesses.

My inbox is already jam packed with useless emails (yes I know, I need to do some purging). Over the last few weeks though, it’s been filling up faster than ever. Perhaps you’ve noticed the same?

All sorts of companies are coming out of the woodwork sending me emails. Despite the range of businesses, their messages are all after the same thing:

“Yes please! Opt me in!”
“Subscribe now!”
“Let’s keep the conversation going!”

Yup, they all want to keep on sending me emails. In some cases, they may want to start in the future. Under the new laws, to do that after July 1 they need my given consent.

Up until now, many businesses have relied on implied consent to market to you electronically (emails, texts, Facebook messages, etc). Maybe you’ve done business with them in the past, bought their products, applied for a job, or entered a contest. They have your email address, so why not use it?

Or maybe you were too busy filling out your personal/payment info, that you didn’t notice the sneaky little pre-checked box for “sign me up for newsletters/offers” before you clicked onward to complete your purchase. Maybe you did and just didn’t care?

First comes the receipt email. Then one with tracking info. Then surprise! Weekly, daily, (hourly?) emails with specials, offers, newsletters, updates, and more. Ugh.

Under the new rules, pre-checked boxes are a big no-no. Those just assume your consent, not that you gave it. Businesses will also need to be able to prove you opted in now, or all sorts of badness can ensue.

Canada may be tardy for the anti-spam party (the last of the G8 countries to do so), but officials have made it clear that the delay doesn’t mean they don’t take spamming lightly.

Violators don’t just get a slap on the wrist for not obeying the rules. Individual infractions can face up to $1 million in fines. That number goes up tenfold for businesses caught red handed—fines up to $10 million! It’s no wonder everyone is scrambling like crazy to make sure they’re all up to code by next week.

As I said, the new laws are great for consumers, but businesses are going to take a hit. Electronic communications have been a great way to market to customers—both existing and potential. The new laws will find many people’s hands tied on what they can and cannot do. I wouldn’t be surprised if snail-mail campaigns make a comeback. Watch your mailbox start filling up again!

Sadly, the CASL only applies to Canadian based electronic communications. You’re still going to get random emails for money from long-lost aunts in Europe or offers for cheap Viagra from Taiwan. But hey, it’s a start!