Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL)

The Act will apply to “all communications sent by Canadian companies, to Canadian companies or messages simply routed through Canadian servers”. This includes personalized communications such as email or SMS messages delivering any form of communication, such as text, images, voice or sounds, or technologies not yet available.

The Act requires that marketers may only send email to individuals who opt into receiving them. Such consent may be implicit, such as by engaging in a transaction with a company, or by virtue of having one’s telephone number or email address listed in a public directory. It is mandatory for senders to enable recipients to opt out of receiving messages. Records collected by marketers via implied consent have a time limit.

An email address is considered private information per PIPEDA, so its use is prohibited if consent has not been granted by the owner of the address. The sender must be able to prove that consent was granted.

The law is enforced by three organizations: the Competition Bureau, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner. It includes a “private right of action that will allow Canadian consumers and businesses to take civil action against those who violate the legislation”. The CRTC may levy fines of up to $1 million for an individual or $10 million for a business that contravenes the Act. Each violation will result in a fine.

Useful links

Timeline

  • May 11, 2004: Government of Canada establishes the Task Force on Spam to lead the Anti-Spam Action Plan for Canada
  • December 3, 2004: Task Force on Spam Online Public Consultation Forum created and a Roundtable Meeting with Key Stakeholders convened
  • May 17, 2005: Task Force on Spam completes one year mandate and issues final report entitled Stopping Spam: Creating a Stronger, Safer Internet
  • May 25, 2010: First Reading of Bill C-28
  • December 15, 2010: C-28  receives Royal Assent
  • July 2011: Regulations drafted
  • July 2011: Regulations published in Gazette for review
  • September 7, 2011: Deadline for comments on Draft Regulations
  • March 2012: CRTC Regulations published in Gazette
  • January 5, 2013: Industry Canada Draft Regulations published for comment
  • Mid 2013: Industry Canada Final Regulations
  • January 23, 2014: MOU entered into between the CRTC, the Competition Bureau and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada
  • July 1, 2014: Most CASL regulations take effect
  • January 15, 2014: CASL Rules related to installing computer programs takes effect
  • July 1, 2017: Rules allowing private right of action, which allows consumers and businesses to take civil action against anyone who violates the law.

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