CASL, Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation, is all the rage these days. As Peter McGregor pointed out on Twitter this morning, “Isn’t CASL just the worst?! It’s generating more spam than it’s preventing, IMO.”

The fact is, CASL has many people concerned. And it should. If you’re not, let me offer a few compelling reasons:

  1. According to Porter Heffernan of law firm Emond Harnden LLP, the Act loves using circular definitions for those it includes, and excluding other definitions which are important. Also, there are nearly as many exceptions as there are rules.
  2. Commercial Electronic Messages (CEMs) include emails, text messages, sound, voice and images.
  3. CEMs need not be exclusively commercial or come with the expectation of a monetary transaction.
  4. Penalties can be up to $1M for individuals and $10M for businesses.
  5. Directors of companies/organizations can be held personally liable for infractions by their employees. At present, insurance companies do not cover CASL violations.

That last point merits repeating.

Directors of companies/organizations can be held personally liable for infractions by their employees. At present, insurance companies do not cover CASL violations.

The Act is more complicated than can be reasonably explained in a blog post. Besides, many people have already done their best to simplify what needs to be done to help you get a head start. Émilie from my team posted the well-summarized Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation: What You Need to Know to our company blog the other day. Still, Émilie’s post only scratches the surface of the Act’s three areas of regulation (of which CEMs are only one).

If you’ve used “double opt-in” for your list, you’re in good shape — so long as you’ve kept records of your member sign-ups. That audit trail is important. Don’t lose it.

If you haven’t used double opt-in, you have just three days left (from the time of this writing) to get your affairs in order before the Act takes effect (granted, there is a two-year period of transition which takes effect on July 1, 2014). Now is the time to get your informed express consent (ideally through unbundled or double opt-in) and make sure your list mailings include your name, complete contact information (mailing address and one of phone number, email or website) and a simple, no-cost unsubscribe feature which ensures unsubscribe within 10 days.

It’s also time to make sure you have a clear policy.

The Act is enforced by the CRTC, Privacy Commissioner and Competition Bureau.

Thanks to BV02 for hosting this morning’s session on CASL.