For any organization or business that sends regular electronic communication to their clients, customers or marketing leads will have to comply with the new Canada Anti-Spam Legislation that takes effect on July 1st, 2014. This includes Section 6, which relates to the sending of commercial electronic messages. Section 8, the section that deals with the installation of computer programs, will come into force on January 15, 2015. The sections that deal with the private right of action will come into force on July, 1 2017.
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.
Penalties are not cheap either, the maximum amount per violation, for an individual is $1 million, and for a business, it is $10 million.
There is a big difference is if you are sending out information regarding non-commercial activity. For example, a message inviting people to an Annual General Meeting, sending out your non-profit organization newsletter or asking them to update information on an online directory would not be commercial activity as you are not soliciting them to purchase anything. Commercial messages are emails with offers to purchase, sell, barter or lease a product, goods, a service, land or an interest or right in land, offers to provide a business, investment or gaming opportunity, promoting a person, including the public image of a person, as being a person who does anything referred to above, or who intends to do so.
What you need to do: (1) obtain consent, (2) provide identification information, and (3) provide an unsubscribe mechanism.
It is also advisable that whatever email system you are using tracks consent with an IP address, date/time stamp and any other information that can be used to prove that the person did give consent. Most of the popular bulk emailing systems will have this feature built in (ie MailChimp, ConstantContact, etc).
You may have already received emails from companies asking you to confirm your subscription to their list – many doing so with incentives. This is a good first step to ensure everybody on your list has given permission to you to receive messages. I never realized how many lists I was on until recently. If you regularly send out bulk emails, I highly encourage you to get consent for every single email you have – but be aware that this will dramatically reduce your list size.
You can read more on the Government’s FightSpam Web Site.
Unfortunately, this will have little effect on the amount of SPAM you receive in your inbox. Most SPAM comes from foreign sources that will not care about our Canadian laws and most companies that will follow these rules will have already followed your wishes to unsubscribe from their lists. This will however, require that those Canadian companies and organizations that you unsubscribe from will have to ensure they never email you again or face harsh penalties.