Changes to Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation

May 13, 2014
Changes to Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation

What Canada's New Anti-Spam Legislation Means For You

New Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation will go into effect on July 1, 2014. This legislation is an attempt to regulate spam and ensure Internet users only receive the commercial electronic messages (CEMs) that they’ve agreed to receive.

A commercial electronic message (i.e. one that “encourages participation in a commercial activity, regardless of whether there is an expectation of profit”) includes emails, text messages, and any other form of electronic communication.

As a business, there are three major guidelines to follow:

1.) You must have either implied or explicit consent before sending a CEM.

Until July 1, 2017, you have implied consent from anyone that you have an existing business relationship with. Obtaining explicit consent from these contacts is important, and is essential for any new contacts you’re making.

Consent is explicit if:

  • Your users are opting in to receive CEMs from you, and not opting out. There cannot be a default checked “opt in” button, for example.
  • Your users know what they are opting into. You must inform your users of the types of messages they will be receiving.

Here is a good example from the CRTC website:

Anti Spam Example Email

Beyond obtaining consent from users, you must be able to prove that you have that consent.

2.) You must clearly identify yourself and any others on whose behalf you’re sending a CEM.

This means any CEM you send must include your business’s address, as well as a contact phone number or email.

3.) You must give the option to unsubscribe.

In every CEM, you must provide a link/instructions for users to unsubscribe from receiving any more messages from you.

So what now?

If you are currently sending emails or other electronic messages to users (in the form of updates, regular newsletters, etc.) that promote any commercial activity (not necessarily your own), you need to obtain explicit consent.

As one of our awesome clients, we’re happy to help at our regular hourly work rate. However, these changes are easy to make on your own and you may prefer to take on the task yourself.

Here are our tips for ensuring you’re abiding by the Anti-Spam Legislation. If you’re…

Using MailChimp to send newsletters:

In terms of the guidelines above, MailChimp already does a great job with #2 and #3. Your contact information and an unsubscribe option are already built into your newsletter.

However, you need to make sure you’re abiding by #1 — obtaining explicit consent. Your website copy around newsletter sign-ups should be clear about the content your users will receive.

You can also include these details in the MailChimp opt-in confirmation email that users receive. This can be found under “sign up” forms.

They must also directly OPT-IN to your newsletter. You cannot have an automatically checked off button that the user must unclick.

If you need to gain explicit consent from your current subscribers, Mailchimp has a great tutorial on how to reconfirm your subscriber list:

Using a Wufoo form or another program to collect email addresses:

If you’re collecting email addresses with another program and sending newsletters or updates to your users, the onus is on you to ensure you’re abiding by the legislation.

  • Ensure that users are opting in themselves, and know what they’re signing up for. That can be as simple as changing the copy on your site to be more specific and ensuring there is no automatically checked boxes.
  • In your correspondence, you must include your contact information (physical address as well as a contact phone number or email). We suggest placing this information at the bottom of emails.
  • An option to unsubscribe needs to be included in EVERY message.
  • You will need to have a way of keeping record of users and their explicit consent.

Still unsure? Here are some helpful resources:

Disclaimer: Nothing in this document shall be considered legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is established.

Thorren Koopmans
Thorren has over a decade of experience managing web and marketing projects. His background in retail, finance and technology—and a long history with computers, web and social media—provide a well-rounded and innovative perspective on strategy development and implementation.
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