CASL vs. US Can-Spam Act
CASL (Canadian Anti-Spam Law), which becomes effective in July of 2014, is different than the anti-spam law in the United States in a few significant ways. First, under CASL, commercial electronic messages are allowed when the recipient opts in, while under the US Can-Spam Act, CEMs are allowed to be sent unless or until the recipient opts out. Second, while in the U.S., email which encourages participation in commercial activity as the primary purpose is against the law, in Canada, if any element of the email has a purpose to encourage such participation, it is against the law.
Individuals, who are found to send non-compliant electronic messages, may have to pay up to a $1 million fine. For corporations, it can be even more expensive — up to a $10 million fine. And the icing on the cake? Receivers of the non-compliant emails can sue for $200 for each individual communication.
On the bright side, CASL has some specifically-defined exemptions, which allow some emails that aren’t fully compliant to be sent. A few of these exemptions include:
Business to Business – certain messages sent within an organization.
Messages sent in the context of a Family Relationship and/ or Personal Relationship.
Messages Sent in Response to a Request, Inquiry or complaint.
Messages Sent to Enforce a Legal Right.
Certain messages Sent and Received on an Electronic Messaging Service.
Messages Sent to a Limited-Access Secure and Confidential Account.
Registered Charities and Political Parties, Organizations and Candidates.
Certain Third Party Referrals.
Canada’s law has a three part phase-in. The first part, consisting of most of the requirements, is effective July 1, 2014. Part two, relating to computer program provisions, is effective on January 15, 2015. The third part, relating to private right of action, is effective on July 1, 2017.