Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation Takes Effect July 1, Are You Ready?
With Canada’s new anti-spam legislation set to take effect on July 1, 2014, the countdown is officially on. For some, this legislation comes as a surprise and has sent many into scramble mode to ensure compliance. But how much of a concern should it be, especially for those who have been true to the traditional rules of opt-in only email marketing? As a professional marketer, you’ve always operated in good faith, and have never sent anyone electronic communication (email, text, or instant messages) for which they didn’t provide their express consent. If that’s the case, your existing opt-in list is acceptable after the new rules comes into effect. You must simply retain your consent records for proof.
So, how does this new legislation change things? The first thing you need to know is that failing to adhere to the legislation’s requirements comes with significant penalties. In extreme cases, fines could start at $1 million, ramping up as high $10 million in some cases. To editorialize, the Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) looks to be going after the unscrupulous marketers among us, those who have come by their lists by means other than opt-in. When marketing to Canadians, either from within or outside Canada, there are the three elements you need to adhere to in order to be in compliance come July 1:
- Consent. Every contact on your distribution list must provide explicit or implied consent indicating that they are willing subscribers.
- Identification. Your business or organization must be clearly identified in every electronic message you send.
- Unsubscribe. With every electronic communication you send, you must provide recipients with a clear way to unsubscribe.
Explicit versus implied
If you’re wondering what the difference is between explicit and implied consent, the CRTC has complete details. the rule of thumb here is that it’s explicit if that person said, in essence, “Yes, please add me to your list”, and implicit if your communication is sent to the recipient in context of your relationship with that person. For example, the recipient expressed an interest in your business or volunteered for your organization. Here’s an interesting tidbit — there is no time limit for sending communications to those who have provided express consent, but for those who have only provided implied consent, a two year limit is in play. Either way, it’s your responsibility as a marketer to be able to prove that you have consent. Once again keep your records handy!
When it doubt, it’s always best to go to the source. Which in this case, is the CRTC antispam website. Here you’ll find everything you need to know about the new anti-spam legislation in complete detail, including guidelines to help you develop corporate compliance programs, along with a very comprehensive FAQ. Finally, Heather MacLean (@heathermaclean), helps make sense of it all as she dispels 9 Myths About the Canadian Anti-Spam Law.
About the Author: Mike McAllister leads Demand Spring’s Content service line. In this role, Mike works with our clients to audit and optimize their content for creating and nurturing demand. He’s also our lead content developer, putting his pen and mouse to work to develop guides, white papers, demos, email marketing campaigns, case studies and other projects where words are required.