CASL Criminalizing Non-Permission Based Email

Post published by on June 24, 2014 in Digital Advertising

Canada’s new anti-spam law is coming out, and if you’ve been using MailChimp or Campaign Monitor you should already be compliant.

That’s because most online bulk email providers have been requiring their customers to use permission based email lists from the get go.

What does permission based email mean?

Permission means someone actually asked to receive your email. Which is pretty simple in theory, however there are always questions that come up because no one wants to trim their email lists. However, now we have to.

Some popular questions we’ve heard are:

  • I got the email from X Company Inc, because their clients said…
    Sorry. Even if you presented at a trade show, and the trade show had an email capture somewhere on their registration page, it doesn’t count as permission for you.
  • These were a bunch of old contacts from my last job, can you add them to the list…
    Sorry. They haven’t given the new company consent, and we don’t know how recently they were last contacted.
  • I have a list of emails from customers, with the date when they bought something from us.
    Yes. That’s great, we can select the recent customers and add them to a list.
  • I have a newsletter signup form on my site
    Of course yes!

View Campaign Monitor’s list.

What Changes from Permission Marketing

Canada’s new Anti-Spam Laws are mostly a little more lax than what is ethically required, however they are more strict than laws in other countries. The main difference with Canada’s Laws is that we have two permission types.

Implied Consent and Express Consent

This is the main area of the change in the Canadian laws from the permission based marketing we’re used to. The new laws in Canada have split consent into two groups where we used to have one single group. These groups make sense when you think about it, but they will take a little extra work to deal with.

Express Consent

Express Consent is when someone fills a form for your email list. Or, when they check a box saying they would like to receive newsletters or promotions from your company. Did you note that I said check, because they have to take an action to give permission. Opt-Out forms are illegal now. Which is music to our ears.

Express consent is a timeless contract, it will not expire until the user unsubscribes. However, the expressed consent is given to only what is stated. You can’t bait and switch telling the user you will message them once, get consent, and send them an email a month.

Implied Consent

On the other side Implied consent comes with a time limit. You’re limited to two years before you either need to gain Express Consent or to stop emailing the address in question.

Implied consent is given to people you have done business with: who bought from you, who have inquired (6 months), who you are in a contract with, or are members of your organization. The two year period starts when the agreement ends, if you’ve had a member who’s been with your organization for 5 years you can send them emails. If tomorrow their membership ends, you have until two years from then to gain their expressed consent.

What to ignore

CASL has some odd elements in it and we will be mostly be suggesting our clients ignore these. You can send an email to any address that’s published on the internet, as long as it doesn’t directly say not to email them. You can use a 3rd party list as long as you state who received the original permissions.

The rest is CAN-SPAM

Since most of our customers deal with American companies we’ve already been following the US CAN-SPAM laws mixed with basic permission marketing. So those rules are still in effect. You must include your address and a method to contact you, as well as a visible Unsubscribe method.