Staying on the Right Side of Canada’s Spam Law

Do you have an email account? If the answer is yes, it is likely you have been sent spam. This might have been an offer of performance enhancing pills, or maybe millions of dollars in an account for you. As part of international agreements, Canada introduced legislation that limits sending electronic messages like emails and texts, especially when requesting money.

Canada’s anti-spam legislation (CASL) is, let’s just say, a ‘ban-all’ approach rather than specifically targeting the type of emails that pedal pills and hoax financial transactions. There’s no exceptions being made for educational institutions. This means schools need to have consent before they send any commercial electronic messages. Businesses can claim an exemption to having consent based on an ‘existing business relationship’ and that gives them ‘implied consent’. However, this does not apply to education. Being a student at a school does not give the school or the district consent to send commercial electronic messages. For example, if you send an electronic message to a student asking for $10 for an event, and the student has not expressly given consent, you will be on the wrong side of Canada’s spam laws!

What Should You Do?

Get consent. You’ll be restricted in sending electronic messages asking for consent, so you might want to send a request for consent to anyone you want to send commercial electronic messages to. You’ll also need to keep all of this communication; the onus is on you to prove you have consent. Getting express consent to send commercial electronic messages needs to become standard practice, if it isn’t already, and a part of your policies and procedures.

A good practice would be to include the following in all of your electronic communications:

  • The name of the person sending the message, and identify on whose behalf the message is sent, if different;
  • Contact information (mailing addressing and either a phone number or an email address) of the senders; and,
  • A mechanism that allows the recipient to easily unsubscribe at no cost.

Thankfully, if you’re using the latest Scholantis Newsletter on your website, we have added everything you need to keep you out of harms way of Canada’s spam laws. Anyone who has subscribed to a newsletter has already given their consent and have you have a record of that.

Just in case you’re thinking it’s not worth the effort spreading the word to your colleagues, fines for non-compliance can get as high as $10,000,000. Determine your risks and make a plan of action. If you’re at all worried about your compliance with CASL legislation, seek professional advise. For more advice on spam laws, visit our website and send us an email.

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