4 warning signs that you’re not compliant with CASL

In June, the federal government announced that it was suspending the private right of action under Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL), originally scheduled to come into force on July 1, 2017. While this announcement was welcomed by many businesses, it has had the unintended consequence of reducing the urgency surrounding CASL compliance. All other provisions of CASL are still in effect and enforced by the CRTC.

Here are four ways your business may not be complying with CASL, the world’s strictest anti-spam law governing electronic communications.

1. You think CASL, or parts of CASL, are optional.
CASL is the law. Anyone who sends a commercial electronic message to a Canadian must obey CASL. There are no exceptions for the size of the company or where the company is located. Derek Lackey, president of the Direct Marketing Association of Canada, CEO of -30- Strategic Communications—a division of Newport Thomson—and author of “CASL Compliance: A Marketer’s Guide to Email Marketing to Canadians” explained, “Businesses are either choosing to ignore it or self-select. They’re saying, I’ll take care of the unsubscribe portion, but the consent thing is silly. These people are making a conscious decision to take a chance.

“Just because you have a working unsubscribe in every email does not make you compliant. That’s such a small piece of the picture.”

2. You don’t understand the difference between obeying the law and compliance.
Obeying the law of CASL means getting consent, only sending emails if you have consent, having a working unsubscribe function and making it clear who you are. That’s following the actual law of CASL.
 
But what if one of your employees accidentally sends an email to 10,000 people on your unsubscribe list? How do you prove to the CRTC that it was an actual accident?

“It’s not good enough to just obey the law; you must have policies and procedures around your email marketing programs,” said Lackey. “You need to know how the people got on your list and why they’re there. You need to train your staff so they’re not breaking the law on your behalf. You need to track it all.

That’s compliance.

“If you can prove you’ve trained your staff, you’ve got a manual, you’ve done the checklist, then the CRTC is going to say, ‘Okay, we buy that this was a one-time mistake.’ But if that mistake happens and you don’t have any of that back up in place? You’re going to get charged.”

3. You don’t have a manual.
Lackey says he can determine in one question if a business is CASL compliant...

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