Canada Day 2010As a part of international accords, a new Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL) will take effect on July 1, 2014 and will impact the entire email marketing and internet marketing industry in Canada. The CASL applies to any commercial electronic messages sent by companies in Canada from small to medium and large sized organisations, including non-profits and charities (there are some exceptions) as well as international companies doing business in Canada.

CASL has been described as the broadest legislation for the internet marketing industry around the world. Businesses are given 6 months till January 15, 2015 to assess and review their internet marketing practices and develop a compliance strategy.

The legislation will apply to any commercial electronic messages (CEM), including promotional emails, Short Message Services (SMS), social networking messages, websites, applications, software, blogs, and more. For example, if you are using email marketing or Social Media channels such as Facebook or LinkedIn to send messages with commercial content, these messages will be under the CASL legislation. After July 1, 2014, CASL will require businesses to obtain a “consent” to send commercial electronic messages, including emails and certain types of social media messages to clients or any email recipients. CASL won’t allow pre-checked in boxes and require companies to clearly identify the sender and the sender’s information and provide users with an opt-out or unsubscribe option.

The penalties include criminal and civil charges and personal liability for the responsible company with penalties of up to $10 million. The deadline is very short, therefore, it is crucial for all companies located in Canada involved in email marketing and internet marketing activities to start preparing as soon as possible and review and develop a new internet marketing strategy in compliance with the CASL. Simply put, you should be ready to prove that you have consent to connect with new, existing or prospective clients via electronic messages.

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