CASL – Turn this Inconvenience into a Better Business Practice!

CASL – Turn this Inconvenience into a Better Business Practice!

By Jennifer Dodd

We here at Stone Orchard Software have spent a considerable chunk of time in the past few weeks preparing for the new Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL) to come into effect.  Even for those within the death care profession who are not directly affected by CASL, by simply following the basic principles of this legislation you are not only prepared for any similar legislation being introduced in your region, but you are also following a great business practice that your clients and contacts are sure to notice and appreciate.

It would certainly be an understatement to say that we started off knowing very little!  As daunting as it first appeared, we quickly learned that we were already halfway there by simply following best business practices.  We did our best to get informed, and one of the contacts we spoke with was Louis-Martin Parent from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).  CFIB was a great resource for us as we attempted to navigate our way through this law, so we thought we’d invite Louis-Martin to share some of his understanding with you. He was been heavily involved at CFIB in preparing for CASL’s implementation and sent us the following, enjoy!

On July 1st, 2014, the new Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL) goes into effect. At best, it is very confusing and will likely restrict legitimate business dealings… and cause many business owners to pour themselves an extra stiff drink or two.

And though you will want to do an honest and comprehensive review of how you communicate with your current and prospective clients, you can take a bit of solace in this: CASL likely wasn’t meant for you. So take a deep breath, and know that help is out there, and it doesn’t have to cost you tens of thousands in legal bills.

Summary of the main aspects to CASL

To be able to send an email to a current or prospective client, you have to be able to prove: that you have the permission to send the email; that the email properly identifies you as the sender; that the recipient has the ability to tell you that they do not want emails from you going forward; and that you have records proving all of this. Let’s look at each in order:

Permission to send the email: This is called “consent”, and it is either express or implied. Express consent means that someone has outright given you permission to send them emails or newsletters, through some form of “opt-in” checkbox. Implied consent is a reasonable assumption that you have the permission to send an email, either through an existing business relationship, a non-business relationship (e.g. volunteer work or membership to the same club or association) or a personal relationship. Express consent never expires, whereas implied consent only goes back two years.

Identification and unsubscribe: Each email must contain all the necessary information about who sent the email, with the name of the company, mailing address, email or website. Each email must also include an easily accessible, cost-free unsubscribe mechanism.

Record keeping: It is up to the sender to prove that they have the express or implied consent through some sort of inventory, showing the type of consent, when it was obtained, and so on.

There is some good news. First, there is a business-to-business exemption for existing business relationships. Moreover, you can contact anyone whose email address has been “conspicuously published” on a website, without a notice that they don’t want to be contacted. Essentially, the focus of the bill is the business-to-consumer market.

That is the high-level summary of CASL. If you are confused, consider yourself part of the majority; I haven’t even mentioned third-party lists, referrals, long-distance software installation, or the potential for a $10 million fine (no, that’s not a typo). One big consent-related question relates to trade shows and getting membership lists through associations. Some quick research (i.e. googling “CASL third party lists” for example) should give you a bit more clarity on any more specific items.

A final list of recommendations: get your consents now (and have a record of all the consents) and make sure your emails are up to code.

Shameless plug: CFIB has a post in our “business support” page that gives a bit more information to help you and your business adapt.  You’ll also find lots of other great support on running a business, including dealing with CRA and HR support as well.

Hopefully some of this information proved helpful!  Wouldn’t we all love to open our e-mail in the morning and not have received any spam? Now if only that “do not call” list was effective…