How to Get Subscriber Consent for Canada’s Anti-Spam Law

Consent requirements for Canada's Anti-Spam Law UpdateAn important piece of legislation will go into affect on July 1, 2014 that will impact many email marketers. The Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL) is updating some of its provisions, and it’s vital you understand how to comply with coming changes. One of the main tenets of the update requires gaining affirmative consent to send any email to a subscriber. This means you can’t send any messaging without the subscriber first opting in. This consent falls into two categories according to Canadian legislation:

Express consent

  • The subscriber opted in through a compliant opt-in form to receive marketing messages from your organization.
  • This consent never expires unless revoked by subscriber.

Implied consent

  • The subscriber has an existing business or non-business relationship with your organization.
  • This consent expires after two years, but you can seek express consent during this time.

In reference to implied consent, an example of a business relationship would be someone who has made a purchase from you. An example of a non-business relationship might be someone making a donation to you or volunteers if you’re a non-profit.

It’s important to keep records of express and implied consent for subscribers. According to CASL, in the event a subscriber complains, the sender (you) is required to provide proof of consent.

Let’s dive into the specifics of express consent.

Express consent must be obtained via a CASL-compliant opt-in form. Wondering if your current form works or if you’ll have to create a new one? Here’s the goods on what the Canadian law requires you to include:

An affirmative action taken by the subscriber to sign up.

  • Entering an email address and clicking submit.
  • Checking a box requesting emails and clicking submit/continue. Note: A pre-checked box is not an affirmative action.

Clear indication the user is requesting – and knows he or she will receive – commercial email from you.

A statement saying the user can unsubscribe at any time.

The identity of the organization sending the email.

At least one piece of contact information.

  • Physical address (Yes, a P.O. Box works!)
  • Website address
  • Email address

The last part of consent requirements we’re going to cover is message content. As with CAN-SPAM, CASL also requires certain elements be included in the body of any Commercial Email Message (CEM). These include:

Clear identification of the sender (you).

  • Identify all involved parties if sending on behalf of a third party, unless any party had no part in determining the target list or content.

A working method to contact the sender.

  • Ditch the “No-reply” from address; it doesn’t comply with CASL.
  • A physical mailing address can be used.
  • A functional, regularly-monitored email address works best.

A working unsubscribe method.

  • Must be functional for at least 60 days after the message is sent.
  • Must not incur any costs, e.g. subscribers charged when replying.
  • Can be either an electronic address (email) or a hyperlink.
  • Sender must process requests without delay (10-day maximum).

That covers the consent requirements for CASL. To make it easier for you to comply, we’ve converted the information from this blog post into a downloadable checklist. This resource also includes additional information including knowing if CASL affects you, the violations and penalties, and an in-depth Q&A. Get it for free now!

Joy Ugi
Digital Marketing Coordinator, WhatCounts
Twitter: @ugigirl

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