Applying Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation: A Marketer’s Checklist


Marketers should be prepared for compliancy with Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL). The intent of CASL is to deter damaging and deceptive forms of spam for occurring in Canada.

CASL covers any electronic message (unsolicited email, SMS, Instant Messaging, spyware, malware, phishing, pharming and social networks) that crosses Canadian wires – regardless of intent. According to Neil Schwartzman, Founder of, “National borders are not a sufficient firewall for the application of this law.” Any and all domains (not only “.ca” but “.com” as well) fall under this new law.  CASL will be enforced by three Canadian regulatory agencies: Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commissions (CRTC), Office of the Privacy Customer, and the Competition Bureau.

CASL should be no threat to legitimate marketers sending permission-based email messages. Regardless of the law, explicit permission-based emails produce the best results and deliverability.

We’ve listed some best practices to help marketers stay compliant with Canada’s new anti-spam law:

  • Be very clear on who is sending the message. A marketer sending a message on behalf of a brand could be responsible.
  • Follow the subscribers rule – get permission (explicit permission) to email your subscribers. If there’s not a request for consent, it’s not consent.
  • Respect and govern the one-to-one marketing relationship that you have with subscribers.
  • Honor each individual’s unique preferences with regard to communication, content, frequency and channel.
  • Provide recipients with an obvious, clear and efficient email or web-based means to opt-out of receiving any further business and/or marketing email messages from your organization.
  • Keep records of the type of consent obtained from recipients so that email lists can be scrubbed prior to campaign broadcasts.
  • Include a link to your company’s privacy policy in every email. The privacy policy should explain the intended use and disclosure of any personal information that might be gathered through “clickstream” means or other website monitoring techniques.
  • Take reasonable steps to ensure that the addresses on your email lists were obtained with proper consent.

CASL was passed in December 2010 and will enter into force following a Governor in Council order.  According to the Government of Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation website, a specific date for coming into force will be set in the coming months.  Industry Canada will be re-gazetting the first set of regulations for a 30-day public consultation after which the comments will be considered.  The new expected date of implementation is now mid-2013.

Want to learn more? We’ve created an “Are You CASL Ready?” checklist to help you identify key areas of your email program that should be reviewed and updated to ensure you prepare for CASL compliancy and avoid legal liability.

Subscribers must be given the means to dictate and control the manner and frequency by which companies can communicate with them. Regardless of the law, explicit permission is the best practice and produces the top results and deliverability.

For more information on the legislation, visit the Government of Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation website at:

*On March 7, 2012 the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) published its final regulations, which provide details on the required contact information and unsubscribe mechanism to be included in each commercial electronic message and the requirements for valid consent.  The second round of draft Industry Canada regulations are expected to be released for a 30-day comment period in late 2012.



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