The Canadian Anti-Spam Law - Basics

Can a businessperson send promotional information to potential customers via e-mail without violating the new Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL)?

The short answer is yes, but the devil is in the details. A businessperson send still e-mail promotions and solicitations to potential customers without violating this law but only in limited circumstances, which depend on 2 key factors: 1) the business owner's relationship with the recipient and 2) the recipient’s conduct.

CASL looks to whether someone would consent to receiving an email solicitation from a businessperson based on her relationship with the businessperson, and whether there is something that the she did (or didn’t do) to imply that she consents to receiving these solicitations from the businessperson that contains information that is relevant to her business. Her consent is implied when she discloses her email address to the businessperson (directly or indirectly by publishing it on her website) and does not state (directly to the businessperson or in a statement on her website) that she doesn’t want to receive unsolicited emails at her email address.

So if you’re a businessperson who communicates with the public electronically, you can avoid violating CASL by making small changes to your current business practices and only sending emails:  

  • to people who are already engaged with your business;
  • to people who are already actively online and expect to communicate electronically;
  • that are relevant to these peoples’ interests;
  • that they are likely to find relevant and interesting, especially with respect to their work; and
  • that allow them to engage easily with you (i.e. make it easy for them to tell you to stop sending them email).

Here are 5 tips for business practices that will help you comply with CASL before you execute your next email campaign to your customers: 

  1. Organize Contacts: go through your email list and group your contacts along areas of interest.
  2. Verify E-Mail: verify that your contacts normally communicate by email. For example, check if they’ve published their email addresses on a website that is available to the general public.
  3. Relevancy: make sure your email message is relevant to the recipient’s interests or business before you click “send”.
  4. Consent: make sure that you are sending the email to people who will want to receive the message.
  5. Unsubscribe: make sure you provide obvious ways for your email recipients to unsubscribe from your list or contact you in person.

Incorporating this checklist into your daily business practice is a simple way to comply with CASL while simultaneously engaging more efficiently and meaningfully with your customers. 

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