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Canada’s Anti-Spam Law: Clearing up a muddy law


Since going into effect in 2014, Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL) has changed the rules on how businesses like yours can communicate with clients and prospective clients. CASL’s goal was to punish spammers, but it affects every business in the country.

CFIB has been fighting to protect small businesses from an unfair burden since CASL’s early days, and we have scored important victories for you.

Your concerns about the anti-spam law

CASL understandably worries business owners like you, not only because it’s so broad and vague, but also because clear information about it has been hard to come by. The effects are serious: the government has issued huge fines for CASL violations, and compliance is tricky to navigate. Top worries from business owners like you are:

  • The law is too complicated and its effects are unclear.
  • Potential compliance costs could be extremely high.
  • Penalties are too severe.
  • Communicating with potential customers could be extremely difficult and cumbersome.

CFIB on your side

We have been active on CASL since before the law’s introduction. We have met to discuss your concerns with officials from Industry Canada / Innovation Canada; CRTC officials, who enforce the law; Cabinet ministers; plus business associations and legal experts.

Here is what our advocacy has won for you:

  • Assurance from former Minister of Industry James Moore that the law was only meant to target spammers and scam artists (though it still impacts your business too).
  • The ability to use referrals for an introductory email to a potential client.
  • One of the most alarming clauses—which would have opened you up to lawsuits in addition to fines—has been suspended indefinitely!
  • A partnership with Cyberimpact, a Canadian email platform that makes compliance simple.

Recently, Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains launched a review of the law, through the Industry Committee. We have participated in the Committee’s consultations, submitting your persistent concerns to the government. We also participated in the government’s audit of CASL.

After the Committee released its recommendations on CASL in December, the government responded and has said that they will be amending CASL. Some of the things they’re going to examine include many of our recommendations, such as:

  • Clarifying certain confusing aspects of the law such as implied and express consent;
  • Looking into whether communications between businesses should fall under the definition of “commercial electronic message”; and,
  • Increasing education efforts around CASL for business owners.

See the government’s full response to the Committee here.  

What you can do

While we fight against some parts of CASL, the law is still on the books—so you need to comply with it. Our Counsellors have put together a comprehensive guide on how to comply with CASL. And don’t miss our webinar on Email Marketing Success in the CASL Era.

June 7, 2017

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