Posts Tagged ‘spam’


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

Monday, January 27th, 2014
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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?

A Letter From a Press Release

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Dear PR Professional,

Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated. “I am not dead and I have an app to prove it.” Ok, maybe I don’t. But granted, I am more than 100 years old and am still holding up fairly well, if I must say so myself.

Our relationship has seen its ups and downs. You’ve shared me in many ways, including, but not limited to mail (long before it was called “snail mail”) and fax – I really burnt up some data lines in my time. Let us not forget email; you’ve emailed me so often and to so many erroneous contacts I sometimes get called “SPAM” or “junk” now – no respect for your elders. And this newfangled “tweeted.” (That’s right, I’m “hip” to it all.)

Now I spend most of my time in online press rooms as a reference link for reporters to “come and get me if they want me.”

A few tips I’ve heard over the years:

ARCHIVE: Even if you focus on social media ALWAYS have a place for traditional releases in your newsroom. This will allow journalists a resource for quotes if someone is not readily available. Your website should have an archive of news stories and I still prove to be a concise summary of events and/or activities important to your business.

IDENTIFY CORRECT RECIPIENTS: Never blindly email me. If you must do this, and I can’t think of a good reason why, at least make sure I’m relevant to the recipient. (I have a positive reputation to maintain after all.)

BE SENSITIVE TO MY SIZE: At least embed me in the email. People hate it when I’m “attached” and frankly just hanging out there is a little scary.

WRITE A GOOD SUBJECT LINE: If you MUST email me, even if the recipient is expecting me, please write a good subject line. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone unopened because nobody really knew what I was so they ignored me.

GIVE THEM WHAT THEY WANT: If someone says they don’t want a press release, but just the who, what, when, where and why, please give it to them. Also prepare that same information in my form or at a minimum a fact sheet for your archive. Remember once I’m on your website you can still maximize me for SEO purposes.

I still have some gas in the tank so don’t count me out just yet. I know some say our relationship is a bit dysfunctional at best. Sure, I’m traditional, you know – AP Style – but I still have a place in your plan and tactics if you use me wisely. And I really think we can make this work.

Lovingly,
Press Release*

***

*Bio: Press Release is a 100+ year veteran of the PR and media relations industry, where it helps professionals connect and engage with relevant journalists and bloggers. In its spare time, Press Release enjoys finding innovative ways to stay curtain in the ever-changing media landscape and maximize its results. Web: BurrellesLuce Media Outreach; Facebook: BurrellesLuce; LinkedIn: BurrellesLuce; Twitter: BurrellesLuce

2010 Bulldog Reporter Media Relations Summit: Jennifer Ha, NY Public Radio, Interviewed by Johna Burke, BurrellesLuce

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Transcript –

JOHNA BURKE:  Hello, this is Johna Burke with BurrellesLuce, and I’m here at the Bulldog Media Relations Summit.  I’m here with Jennifer.

Jennifer, will you please introduce yourself?

JENNIFER HA:  Hi.  I’m Jennifer Ha, executive director of digital media at New York Public Radio.  And I’m here at the conference and I’d love to tell you how you can get in touch with us at New York Public Radio.  So the best way is through email, and we do read our emails. 

And also know who you’re trying to reach and what they cover because it’s really important to target your pitches and understand what’s important to the person that you’re pitching to.  Also, please do not use red exclamation points, please, please, please.  That means emergency to me. Because if you do use one, I’ll put you in our spam filter. Sorry.

BURKE:  Excellent tip.  And especially if, you know, you’re trying to represent your client or your organization, you know, it’s just as important to know what not to do as to know what to do.  Jennifer, thanks so much. Where can people find you in social media?

HA:  We’re on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube.  You name it, we’re on it.

BURKE:  Great.  Thank you so much.

HA:  Thank you.