Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation

Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) establishes rules for the sending of commercial electronic messages (CEMs) and the installation of computer programs. CASL also prohibits the unauthorized alteration of transmission data.

What You Need to Know About Sending Commercial Electronic Messages

  • CASL applies to everyone—individuals, incorporated and unincorporated businesses, not-for-profit organizations, etc.—who sends electronic messages for commercial purposes.
  • Under CASL, electronic messages can include emails, SMS text messages, instant messages and messages sent through social networks.
  •  CASL defines a CEM as a message that encourages participation in a commercial activity. This includes advertisements and information about promotions, offers, business opportunities, events, etc.
  • Under CASL, consent is required before sending a CEM. Yet, an electronic message that is sent to obtain consent to send a message for commercial purposes is also considered a CEM.
  • Consent can either be express or implied.
    • Express consent means someone actively gave you permission to send him/her a CEM.
    • Implied consent means it would be reasonable to conclude you have someone’s permission to send him/her a CEM based on prior relationships. Implied consent could also apply to someone who has conspicuously published his/her email address, say on a website.
  • To obtain express consent, you must:
    • Clearly describe the purposes for requesting consent;
    • Provide the name of the person seeking consent and identify on whose behalf consent is sought, if different;
    • Provide contact information (mailing address and either a phone number or an email address) of those parties seeking consent; and,
    • Indicate the recipient can unsubscribe.
  • Under CASL, you must be able to prove you have consent.
  • You must include the following in every CEM:
    • The name of the person sending the message, and identify on whose behalf the message is sent, if different;
    • Contact information (mailing addressing and either a phone number or an email address) of the senders; and,
    • A mechanism that allows the recipient to easily unsubscribe at no cost.
  • There are a number of excluded CEMs under CASL. View the exceptions [https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/E-1.6/page-1.html#h-176975] (under Requirements and Prohibitions, see section 5).

CASL Compliance

The following resources will help prepare your organization for compliance: