Small businesses poorly informed about the anti-spam law

In force since July 1, Canada’s anti-spam legislation (CASL) is still largely unknown by SME owners. In fact only 15% of them are aware of the requirements of this law and 62% have not yet taken any action to comply. This is what a survey by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) has found.

Faced with these figures, the CFIB recently wrote to Minister James Moore to share the concerns of SMEs under this new law.To allow them to be better prepared, the Federation gave a few recommendations:

  • inform SMEs about the requirements of the law rather than applying penalties,
  • give more time and flexibility to SMEs to comply with the law,
  • provide exemptions for companies that send less than a certain number of emails monthly or annually,
  • review the CASL so that it actually meets its objectives and limit unexpected consequences and costs,
  • ensure that the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is able to support entrepreneurs.

Understanding the CASL requirements better

The CASL relates to companies that send electronic messages to promote their products or services by email, instant messaging or via social media. Any commercial distribution must be the subject of express or tacit consent by the recipient. Express consent consists of obtaining written or verbal agreement from the recipient. It should be noted that the company must be able to prove this consent. Tacit consent relates to a recipient who has a family or personal link or a prior business or private relationship.

Commercial electronic messages must include detailed information about the sender (postal address, telephone number, email address, website address, etc.) and provide an unsubscribe mechanism. The names of recipients who do not wish to receive communication from the company must be removed from the distribution list within ten days.

When a potential customer has been referred, the company is only allowed to send a single message. It must include all the information about the sender, the name of the person who recommended it and the unsubscribe mechanism.

Finally, the CASL has many other provisions depending on the nature of the business activities (publication of an electronic newsletter, contests by email, use of lists obtained from a third party, etc.).

To allow companies to comply with the requirements of the law, the CFIB has published a series of recommendations on its website. It provides information on consent, the unsubscribe mechanism, communication with potential customers and the processes to be implemented. To learn more: visit the CFIB website.

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