What American Event Planners Need to Know About Canada's new Anti-Spam Laws

SpamHave you heard that Canada is ready to get tough on spam and new Anti-Spam Legislation goes into effect July 1, 2014?

If you're an event planner in the U.S. (or any part of the world for that matter) and you market events to companies and individuals based in Canada, there is something important for you to know. This legislation has an impact on you.

With CASL, Canada is catching up with the U.S. and other countries that have long had legislation to protect their citizens from spam. There are some unique features about CASL so if you market events to Canadians, send out a newsletter, monthly or quarterly updates, please sit up and take notice for the next few minutes.


This blog post is not an exhaustive review of CASL provisions
and it does not constitute as legal advice.


  1. All commercial electronic messages (CEMs) sent to electronic addresses are covered, not just e-mail.
    CASL covers CEMs to promote a business, product, service, or person whether they are sent via e-mail or private text message and social media platforms.

    Electronic address include email accounts, an instant messaging account,telephone numbers, and similar accounts (e.g. social media private in-boxes).
  2. A key feature of CASL is that, in the event of a dispute or complaint, companies must be able to prove when, where and how consent was given to send commercial electronics messages.
  3. Under CASL, "explicit consent" is based on opt-in, not an opt out process.
    Providing a method to unsubscribe is not considered proof of "explicit consent".
  4. A physical address, telephone number and e-mail must be included in all commercial electronic messages sent to Canadian individuals and businesses.
  5. There must be a clear unsubscribe process.
  6. Companies are permitted to send CEMs to clients up to 2 years after the last business transaction. After that, there must be evidence of opt-in permission to continue communication.
  7. CASL makes a provision for "implied consent that applies when a someone gives you a business card or contacts your organization to request a quote. This expires 6 months after the initial contact.
    During the 6 month period, it is important to get "express consent" through an opt-in process.
  8. The fines for non-compliance are hefty.

    The maximum amount of an AMP, per violation, for an individual is $1 million, and for a business, it is $10 million.
  9. Directors and officers of companies can be held liable too.
  10. CASL also covers the installation of computer programs and the alteration of transmission data, without express consent.

    On January 15, 2015, sections of CASL related to the unsolicited installation of computer programs or software come into force.

What Does CASL Mean to YOU?

If your company is relatively new your email or newsletter list was created exclusively through a double opt-in sign-up process, you have nothing to worry about.

If you have been in business for a long time and you simply migrated members of an existing list to an automated e-mail management platform, you'll need to take action. If subscribers were not asked to opt-in at the time of migration, it is essential for you to communicate with recipients of commercial electronic messages based in Canada and request permission to continue to communicate with them.

This process is not easy as automated e-mail management systems do not have a link that you can simply push and ask list members to re-confirm their interest in subscribing. To confirm consent it is necessary to:

  • Export the list.
  • Either create a brand new list or remove all Canadian subscribers from your exsitings list.

Important: There is a 3-year (36-month) transition period that kicks in July 1, 2014.

"Under section 66, consent to send commercial electronic messages (CEMs) is implied for a period of 36 months beginning July 1, 2014, where there is an existing business or non-business relationship that includes the communication of CEMs. Note however, that this three-year period of implied consent will end if the recipient indicates that they no longer consent to receiving CEMs.

During the transitional period, the definitions of existing business and non-business relationships are not subject to the limitation periods that would otherwise be applicable under section 10 of CASL."

For more detail, consult the website that the Canadian Government has set up to fully explain Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation/La Loi canadienne anti-pourriel.

Photo Credit: Jerry Pank

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