I have received many Requests For Consent from Canadian companies that were sending me information in newsletters. Now that most of the CASL (Canadian Anti-Spam Law) will come into effect July 1, 2014, I thought I’d share some of my research and resources with you, so you can hopefully find some answers to your specific questions quicker.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a lawyer. This is based on what I found on the web, and you can use this in your own research, so you can create your own opinion. It may also be wise to consult a real lawyer.

What I see as some of the core elements of the new laws regarding “Commercial Electronic Messages”, or CEMs:

  1. Express consent:
    1. The person requesting permission should clearly identify him/herself, and state why the permission is sought
    2. The recipient needs to clearly say “yes”, and act; pre-checked opt-in boxes in a subscription form are not enough
    3. The best way to protect yourself is to use double opt-in for your newsletters and broadcasts (this means: people need to confirm a link in an email before they are added to your list)
    4. Explicit consent does not expire
  2. Implied consent:
    1. Only temporary…
    2. 6 months to reply to inquiries or applications
    3. 2 years in case of an “existing business relationship” or “non-business relationship”
    4. 2 years in case somebody disclosed their address to you (e.g. gave you a business card)
    5. 2 years in case the address is published (e.g. on a website)

Some basic BUT’s:

  • You do not have implied consent if the recipient states that they do not want to be contacted
  • You should offer unsubscribe options, and honour these requests immediately
  • You have to track how you obtained consent of each individual to whom you send CEMs
  • You should clearly identify yourself and allow people to contact you; make sure that the contact information is valid for a minimum of 60 days after the message has been sent
  • The implied consent only applies to messages that are relevant to the recipient’s role, functions or duties in an official or business capacity

Of course this is only a very rough and incomplete overview. Check the resources below for more detailed and complete information, or consult a lawyer with your specific questions or concerns.

I am not a lawyer. This is merely my interpretation of the information that I found on the web. I hope this will help you in your own research, or your preparation when consulting of a real lawyer.

CASL Resources

Here are some of the resources that I used in my research:

Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation – summary

Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation – full text

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Compliance and Enforcement Information Bulletin


Some more notes and resources:

“The law is part of Canada’s attempt to deter the most damaging and deceptive forms of spam like identity theft, phishing, and spyware. Unlike CAN-SPAM, which accepts an opt-out model, CASL requires an opt-in model. This means you must have explicit (not implied) permission from the recipient in order to send email marketing to anyone in Canada.”
Source: Infusionsoft

Regarding Trade Show contacts:
“Best practices: include a checkbox on any trade show forms indicating that the prospect wishes to receive promotional emails, and send an opt-in confirmation at the end of the trade show to double check.”
Source: Salesforce (link no longer available)

Canadian Anti-Spam Law – Information and resources for not-for-profits and registered charities
From the Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta

The Fear-Free Guide to Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation: Answers to Ten Common Questions (June 10, 2014)
Related article from Dr. Michael Geist, who is a law professor at the University of Ottawa where he holds the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law