“Spam is a waste of the receivers’ time, and, a waste of the sender’s optimism.” - Mokokoma Mokhonoana
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Issue 16    June, 2014

Sue HornerDear Sue2,
Stopping spammers is a worthy goal. Maybe the new Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL) will help, although wily spammers seem to find clever tricks to evade every attempt to stop them.
Sue's signature

Spam stops here, maybe

Image of spam letters The looming deadline of July 1, 2014 has some marketers in a panic. That's when a new law comes into effect, the Canadian Anti-Spam Law -- which everyone seems to shorten to CASL, pronounced "castle." Running afoul of the law could mean serious penalties, including fines up to $10 million.

The law applies to Canadian residents or anyone sending to Canadian residents. It covers commercial electronic messages, including email, instant messages and texts.

Should we all panic? Probably not. Unlike spammers, we don't grab random email addresses and blast them with unwanted messages. We have relationships with the people we email, and as with this newsletter, people have asked or agreed to be on the mailing list.

Employee e-newsletters are fine, since messages sent within an organization are exempt. Non-profits and politicians are also off the hook; they are allowed to send newsletters or other messages to people who have previously donated to or volunteered for the cause.

For other senders, the main requirement is consent, either express ("Sign me up") or implied (for example, you're responding to a request, inquiry or complaint, or providing warrant or safety information). Key points about consent are
  • You can't send a commercial electronic message without consent.
  • You can't get that consent by default, as in a box already checked; the person must click a button, check a box or otherwise take action.
  • You must keep a record of the consent.
  • With implied consent, you have two years to turn it into express consent, which is why many marketers are already sending out reconfirmation notices.
Email newsletter services like MailChimp, Constant Contact or iContact already make sure senders comply with the other two key requirements of the law:
  • You must provide an easy way to unsubscribe.
  • You must show full disclosure of the sender, complete with contact information.
The fine print is a little confusing, but if we follow those three main guidelines, it looks like we'll be okay.

Over the three years we have to get ready, we'll no doubt hear many more details that will clear up the confusion. In the meantime, you'll find a link to the official CASL site below, and these email marketing services also have advice about CASL: Constant Contact; MailChimp; and iContact.

Do you have questions about CASL? I don't pretend to understand all that government-speak, but hit "reply" and let me know your questions, and I'll try to find answers for you.

Images: Email mailbox by "Patchareeya99" and Sue by Chris Salvo,


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