Canadian lawmakers have finally had enough spam in their email boxes and just passed legislation which essentially outlaws all unsolicited commercial emails. If you want to send commercial email to a Canadian, you must have their express consent, regardless of where your company is in the world. At first blush, you may be tempted to say, “Good for them. Fight the good fight, Canada!” and you’d be counted sane to believe this was enacted with good intentions, but we know where those types of roads sometimes lead. As many others have pointed out, this will likely negatively impact the businesses and organizations we do want to hear from, and will have little to no impact on spammers who already ignore laws, ethics, logic, spelling and common sense. Rather than having an inbox filled with all sorts of email, Canadians can look forward to only getting spam from scofflaws. Oh, and a ton of emails from companies asking for their permission to keep their addresses on their lists.
What this means for you:
If you send commercial email to your clients or customers, and some of them happen to be Canadian, you now have to sort them out and get a positive confirmation from them, regardless of whether they had actively or tacitly agreed to be on your mailing list. In other words, you have to send out what is likely to be viewed as an unwanted email to someone who already has too much email, asking if they are OK with you sending emails to them in the future. The fines for violating CASL are quite stiff (up to $1M for individuals), so you can be sure businesses with Canadian customers are taking this very seriously. And this law isn’t just limited to advertisement emails. This newsletter is technically an email with commercial intent, and if I were to send it to Canadians without their express consent, I could be held liable. Is a law similar to CASL likely to be considered in the US? Seeing as our politicians have trouble agreeing on just about anything lately, I’d say we’d only have to worry about the Spam Mounties for the moment.
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