Psssst…You Could Lose Millions to CASL If You Don’t Read This!

July has historically been a significant month for Canadians, with Canada Day celebrations and all. But in 2017, the first of July will take on a whole new meaning for Canadian businessmen and women.

July 1st, 2017 is the day the Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL) sprouts new teeth.

If you’ve done business online at any point in the past three years, you’ve probably heard of CASL, which prevents businesses from sending unsolicited electronic communication to the public. It’s one of the harsher spam laws out there, and several big-name companies (Kellogg, Compufinder, Blackstone Learning Corp, Rogers) have already run afoul of CASL’s tight new restrictions.

Penalties for the most serious violations of the Act can go as high as $1 million for individuals and $10 million for businesses.

On the first of July CASL’s private right of action clause comes into force. Privacy complaints can now be turned over to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) for them to investigate and prosecute. So, if you haven’t been complying with CASL up to that point, soon you’re very likely going to feel the wrath of the CRTC.

For my friends south of the border in America who also perform business in Canada, there are a few key differences to note to make sure you’re in the clear:

  • The US anti-spam law is an “opt-out” model. This is slightly more lenient. This allows for commercial email messages to be sent to recipients in America as long as it gives them the notable option to unsubscribe.
  • The Canadian anti-spam law uses an “opt-in” model. Which only allows for commercial email messages to be sent to recipients in Canada if the recipient has given notable and expressed consent to receiving commercial email messages from your business. However, CASL also requires the recipient be given the option to opt-out. Ultimately this means CASL is both an opt-in and opt-out model in Canada.

Under section 12 (1) of CASL, a person contravenes section 6 (pertaining to the sending of promotional messages), if a computer system located in Canada is used to send or access the electronic message.

In simpler terms, if you are an American business sending commercial emails to someone (a computer) in Canada, then you must follow CASL.

This means spamming will likely take a significant nosedive—in Canada, anyway. For legitimate businesses that still want to send Commercial Electronic Messages (CEMs) to customers, well…

You better start to review your CASL compliance guidelines.

For large revenue businesses, this is pretty easy as they are probably working with marketing technology agencies like Couch & Associates to validate and ensure their databases are up to date, but for SMB and mid-market companies this law could end up sucking a lot of vital time and resources.

Here is what you need to know (directly quoted from the official CASL website):

“Legitimate complaints about unsolicited emails may be turned over to the CRTC, which may investigate to determine if the message violates CASL.

If you are judged to be in violation, the CRTC has a range of enforcement tools available.

There are no automatic penalties for violations. The CRTC judges each case based on a series of factors, including the nature of the violation, your history with CASL, whether you benefited financially from the violation and your ability to pay a penalty.

Penalties for the most serious violations of the Act can go as high as $1 million for individuals and $10 million for businesses."

If you are interested in discussing how CASL could impact your business, consider reaching out to me at or any of the awesome folks at Couch & AssociatesData Insight Group, and 3Avenues.