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Canada Says ‘No’ to Spam

Have you had it up to your eyeballs being bombarded with spam? Then you should consider moving to Canada.

Do you send commercial electronic messages (CEM) marketing your products and services to businesses and individuals in Canada, whether or not your organization is based in Canada? If so, then you had better stop immediately unless you have the recipients’ permission and they understand clearly how their contact information will be used. Otherwise, you will run afoul of Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL) aimed at protecting Canadian residents.

Never heard of CASL, you say? Likely most people in the U.S. and elsewhere haven’t. CASL, one of the toughest laws of its kind in the world, prohibits the sending of CEMs without the recipient’s permission.

The law identifies a CEM (email, text message, instant messaging, etc.) by its content: intended to encourage participation in a commercial activity such as marketing, buying, or selling products or services. Email addresses and other contact information of targeted recipients is collected via address-harvesting software, websites, telemarketing, and other means.

CASL actually went into effect on July 1, 2014. Additionally, on January 15, 2015, the law made it illegal to install programs on anyone’s computing device (e.g., laptop, desktop, smartphone, gaming console or other connected device) in the course of commercial activity without the express consent of the device owner or an authorized user (employee or family member, for instance).

Three government agencies are responsible for enforcing the law. Violators can receive warnings or penalties of up to $1 million for individuals and $10 million for businesses.

Beginning on July 1, 2017, the law will allow individuals and organizations affected by an act or omission that is in violation of the law to seek actual and statutory damages by bringing a private right of action in court against individuals and organizations whom they allege have violated the law.

For more information on CASL, see http://fightspam.gc.ca.

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