With the federal parliament returning from a long summer break, many in the legal and business communities will be closely watching for any signs as to the future of the still yet to be implemented federal legislation designed to control spam in Canada, known as Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation and referred to by those in the industry by its acronym, CASL.
When implemented, CASL will prohibit the sending of commercial electronic messages ("CEM's") unless the sender has obtained the recipient's prior consent or otherwise falls within a permitted exception under the law. Further, the content of every CEM sent must contain specific CASL-prescribed requirements.
For several years, lawyers have been encouraging clients to consider the issue and the steps they will need to take to comply with the law when enacted in light of the potentially hefty consequences of non-compliance. Those in breach will be severely penalized – at the top end of the scale corporations in breach may receive fines up to 10 million dollars while individuals may receive fines up to $1 million dollars. Further, the legislation provides individuals with a private right of action for a breach thereby exposing senders to potential civil liability.
One interesting point in the ongoing debate about the merits of CASL is the fact that certain of the steps that will be required of companies to comply are generally becoming best practice among those in the e-marketing field. In fact, some large e-mail marketing providers are requiring their clients to take certain steps such as purging lists and obtaining explicit client consent in order to use their services. The rationale behind this is that an e-mail marketing list of active, consenting users is far more valuable and powerful to an organization than one that is simply a dump of every e-mail address a company has ever obtained.