CASL: A Practical Approach to Move Forward

The following is an example of an M.P. who, in the opinion of the Direct Marketing Association of Canada, has grasped the key issues and is recommending a cost effective, responsible way forward for CASL.

Fact is Government regulation is required to save email marketing from reaching the bottom of the barrel in terms of marketing options for business. Left unregulated email would lose relevance in the next 5 years as most individuals would literally be afraid to open their inbox (some already are) due to the sheer amount of SPAM (unwanted emails). And make no mistake - much of that SPAM comes form "legitimate businesses", such as major retailers.

Of course business is resisting this. It adds costs to a relatively free medium that appears to reach people on a mass scale (until you examine open rates which present an entirely different picture). But we believe having a little skin in the game will help make email marketing a useful tool for businesses if used properly. Blasting emails to as many email addresses as you can find, as frequently as you can, does not qualify. That's SPAM.

Email is a great marketing tool. The feedback is immediate. If you are listening. Most businesses are not. Otherwise they would not accept 17% open rates as being "good", using a tool that allows you to connect with engaged individuals. When 83% of your list NEVER opens an email, who are you kidding?

We welcome Brian Masse's practical approach and 100% support his position. Email is a great tool but it requires a law like CASL, properly enforced, to let it thrive. Read on:

Brian Masse M.P. Windsor West NDP
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Critic Existing

Canada Anti-Spam Legislation
Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) was initially developed to move Canada forward internationally in stopping unwanted spam for Canadian consumers and to curb Canada being one of the top origin destinations for international spam. Since the law was enforced in 2014, spam has decreased to Canadians’ inboxes, yet it is unclear how much of this was a product of CASL or other anti-spam software.

Over the course of this CASL review, this committee heard witnesses testify on all aspects of the legislation. However, the most often heard complaint was frustration and confusion with the language, terminology, and definitions used within the existing legislation.

New Democrats do not believe that this is a reason to change the existing law.

Instead, we view this as an opportunity to properly educate and train these businesses and organizations in order to better understand the existing law.

Therefore, we support committee recommendation 9 for better training to businesses and organizations on the terminology that exists, while still ensuring that the current law remains intact.

Further, witnesses testified that without the government, internet service providers (ISPs) or the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) having kept records on the actual statistics following the implementation of this law in 2014, it is hard to identify whether or not this law itself has had an impact for Canadian consumers. We were told that it is unclear on all fronts whether the existing law is working because there is no reporting mechanism for ISPs, CRTC or from other forms of data collection.

Yet, we heard that up to 5,000 consumer complaints are launched weekly with CRTC. Statistics on all fronts, including what is working and what is not, would illuminate whether or not the law if effective before we change it. We therefore also support recommendation 12 for the collection of the data to better understand if the existing law is working before any changes are made to the legislation.

Moreover, we do not support opening up the existing legislation to clarify, narrow, or change the existing definitions of “express consent,” “implied consent,” or “commercial electronic message (CEM).” This could have unintended consequences that would pose a significant setback for consumer privacy without even knowing whether the existing legislation is effective.

Any changes to the consent model at this point would create more confusion to the businesses and organizations affected by CASL. The narrowing or changing the definition of CEM would also likely require a re-write of the legislation and potentially allow loopholes that change the way that CEMs can be sent.

If the original intention of the legislation was to protect consumers, a change to the definition of CEMs could potentially open up consumers’ emails to a world of exemptions that currently do not exist.

New Democrats do not support creating new exemptions in this legislation.

Private Right of Action

The NDP believes that the private right of action of this legislation should be enforced, as is, and not studied further.

With the proper education and training on the existing legislation from the CRTC, we feel that businesses and organizations should be prepared and confident to send their CEMs and should not fear prosecution. We do support allowing consumers this option and would be comfortable with a grace period of one year or less to allow for the proper training, education and software implementation for businesses and organizations affected.

Three year review
Finally, we recommend another three-year review, in order for the government, ISPs and CRTC to collect data on the effectiveness of this legislation and report back to committee.

What do you think?


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