Posts Tagged ‘Canada Anti-Spam Law’


This Week’s Shot of Fresh: Statues, Socialocity, The Loop, Compelling Content, Groundhog Day, Advocados, Quoting Accurately, and Lawyer Up

Friday, February 7th, 2014
Squared Splash by flickr user derekGavey used under CC BY

Squared Splash by flickr user derekGavey used under CC BY

It’s been a busy two weeks here at Fresh Ideas. This week’s Shot of Fresh rounds up our Fresh Ideas content for the past two weeks:

Get Thee to a Lawyer: What You Need to Know About Canada’s New Anti-Spam Law

Almost every commercial email falls under purview of this law, so if you have affiliates, headquarters, clients, or leads in Canada, there’s a lot to do before July 1.

Issuing Citations: How to Quote Wisely and Accurately

Friends don’t let friends misquote. Misquotes shift the focus from your message to your mistake – here are some tips to quote someone accurately.

Jargonology Episode 3: Advocado

Don’t be an advocado – that’s what fact-checking is for. Don’t know what that means? Check out the video for your latest jargon jar addition.

Five PR Takeaways From Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day is still just once a year, but PR lessons from the movie are forever.

How to Build a Brand Using Compelling Content

It’s the age of content marketing but that content needs to be compelling and contagious in order add to the brand. Check out the three E’s of contagious content.

The Loop: A 360° Approach to Public Relations – Registration Now Open

Know a PR student? Then they should attend The Loop, a PRSSA conference in downtown Chicago early next month. Plus, our own Tressa Robbins is a speaker.

Art Discourse, or Community PR?

When an ultra-lifelike, nearly naked statue of a sleepwalking man appears on the Wellesley College campus (a women’s college), is it PR stunt, or glaring misread of the audience?

Jargonology Episode 4: The Story of Socialocity

We’ve all witnessed socialocity firsthand – the rapid-fire pace at which an offensive tweet is shared, the traffic and comments a fan base can bring – and let’s face it: We all want to be on socialocity’s good side, even if it means performing emergency hashtagectomies, quarantining our influenzers, or reforming advocados.

Get Thee to a Lawyer: What You Need to Know About Canada’s New Anti-Spam Law

Monday, January 27th, 2014
flicr user buggolo

flicr user buggolo

Last week, Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) held a webinar about Canada’s new anti-spam law. I attended the webinar, which was led by copyright and intellectual lawyer Barry Sookman.

Here’s the first thing you need to know: I am not a lawyer. The law is intricate, confounding, and complex, and this blog post should in no way be construed as legal advice. If you have any questions, consult a lawyer.

Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) becomes effective as of July 1, 2014. Sookman says it is a four-part legislation:

  • Anti-Spam: Deals with more than just “spam” as we think of it. The law will apply to the transmission of commercial electronic messages, whether it’s “spam” or not.
  • Spyware and malware: The legislation has been drafted in very broad terms to prohibit installation of any computer program, whether it’s malware or benign software.
  • Amendment to a national privacy law that prohibits address and personal information harvesting. This includes automated programs that collect email addresses.
  • Amendment to the competition act: An anti-trust act regarding false or misleading misrepresentation that has now been augmented with provisions making it illegal for emails to include misrepresentations. The definitions are very broad, and even extend to URLs included in an email and the subject line

Here’s the other top thing you need to know: If your organization sends any electronic messages to Canadian citizens, your organization can be found liable, whether you are based in or out of Canada. If your organization is headquartered outside Canada but has affiliate offices in Canada, those affiliate offices, and any messages you send to them, fall under the scope of CASL.

It’s worth noting that the business community in Canada wanted much more time to implement compliance, as the July 1 deadline may not give enough time for many to comply, since developing a compliance program means considering a number of pieces of legislation and regulatory laws.

Not complying can bring hefty penalties: Sookman warns that after a hearing, the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) can impose a monetary penalty of up to $10 million, and a private right of action can cost offending companies $1 million per day for breach of spam and malware provisions.

As I said before, the law is opaque and contradictory, so I’m not going to explain a lot of terminologies and provisions that Sookman explained. Instead, I’ll highlight a few very basic principles and once again encourage you to consult a lawyer.

  • Legislation dictates that organizations cannot send electronic messages unless the recipient has consented (there’s a lot of confusion behind express and implied consent, which is best explained by a lawyer). There must be a specific, prescribed unsubscribe option. This includes not just messages to email, but also to instant message and texts.
  • There are certain exceptions if your organization has an existing business relationship with the recipient, but when it comes to implied or express consent, there are many contradictory indications of when each applies.
  • The spyware/malware provisions deal with any computer programs. Sookman says that organizations need to be concerned about these provisions, as the requirements are not consistent with current business practices.
  • There is a general prohibition against a business installing programs on a computer system. If your organization has specific software clients need to run, this applies. You must acquire consent and change your websites, agreements, permissions, and download processes.

CASL makes the U.S.’s requirements look like an easy hurdle; it goes far beyond the scope of the U.S.’s CAN-SPAM Act, which includes requiring senders to tell recipients how to opt out of future emails and honoring those opt-out requests promptly. It’s likely that opt-outs will have far more prescriptions and specifications that those laid out by CAN-SPAM.

Sookman recommends that organizations begin with the following:

  • Ensuring the due diligence defense applies to them. This means that your organization takes all reasonable steps to develop a compliance program that applies even at board level, and that the organization has a policy to ensure regular updates and policy implementation. Sookman says that following guidelines may should like a reasonable way to follow due diligence, but a misunderstanding of the law will not help you establish a due diligence defense.
  • Conduct a review or survey of each department to identify current communications or software installation practices, methods of obtaining consent, and unsubscribe techniques.
  • Develop a plan to address gaps, establish procedures to ensure ongoing compliance and institutional monitoring of CASL activities
  • Start obtaining express consent ASAP
  • Check out the McCarthy Tetrault toolkit
  • Consult a lawyer

In short, CASL applies to a lot more organizations that I thought it would. There’s a good chance CASL applies to your organization. With less than six months until go-time, consult a lawyer and get moving.

Even if your organization has no affiliation with Canada, SIIA still provided access to a great lesson: we still have to pay attention, because it’s possible that if CASL is effective, the U.S. and other countries could follow suit and tighten regulations. Has your organization taken steps to comply with CASL? Do you think similar regulations could take hold in other countries should CASL prove effective?