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IT’S YOUR BUSINESS: Anti-spam legislation is designed to protect you and your customers

By Joe Smith

By Joe Smith

Special to the Record

Over the past few months, I have been receiving emails that do not include the “unsubscribe” option. This contravenes Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL). If your business is using emails as a tactic in your marketing strategy it is important that you understand the legislation. Failure to do so can have some serious consequences in the form of monetary penalties amounting to thousands of dollars.

Here are a few fast facts taken from the CASL website. In general, CASL prohibits companies from:

• sending commercial electronic messages without consent, including email, social media and text messages;

• altering the transmission data in an electronic message so the message is sent to a different destination without the receiver’s express consent;

• installing software on electronic devices without consent including in some cases updates and upgrades;

• using false or misleading representations to promote products or services online;

• collecting personal information by accessing a computer system or electronic device illegally;

• harvesting addresses (collecting and/or using email or other electronic addresses without permission).

When it comes to consent, there are also strict rules that must be followed. There are two kinds of consent, express and implied.

Express consent means that someone has agreed to receive commercial electronic messages from you. Implied consent can be a little more complicated depending on the circumstances. One is when you have an existing business relationship with the person you are messaging.

You must also be aware that consent obligations under the CASL are not the only ones that must be respected. Some businesses will also have to adhere to any separate obligations under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act.

Additionally, if you are collecting privacy information, you must make it abundantly clear what personal information is being collected, why and whether you are sharing that information with other parties. Furthermore, you must make available to individuals a clear and accessible choice for any collection, use or disclosure that is not necessary to the provision of your product or service.

The bottom line is that if you want to maintain your reputation and people’s confidence and trust … don’t get classified as a spammer.

Joe Smith is a communications consultant and an accomplished fine artist. He can be reached via email at