Michael Schiavone and Matthew Morey, noted Buffalo commercial attorneys, were invited by Buffalo Law Journal to author an article on Canada’s strict new law governing commercial electronic messages (CEMs).
Click here for the article.
The Canadian government enacted its Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL), effective last July, in an attempt to reduce the amount of CEMs being sent to Canadians without their consent. CASL requires prior consent from an intended recipient in order to send that person most types of CEMs. A CEM is any type of electronic message, including e-mails, text messages, and social media messages, related to commercial activity.
One wrong e-mail may cost millions
As Mr. Schiavone and Mr. Morey note, CASL covers even innocuous-seeming communication pieces like seasonal electronic greetings. They warn that you may “click ‘send’ on the holiday e-card and unknowingly expose your company to a potential $10 million fine.”
They continue, “You may think you do not have to worry about this because your business is in the United States and rarely, if ever, does business in Canada. Yet if your e-mail list includes an address going to Canada, you may be subject to the impact of CASL. Knowing some of the key provisions will help ensure your company complies with the legislation and avoid penalties.”
Other CASL mandates
In addition to obtaining the recipient’s consent prior to sending a CEM, the law requires that the message clearly identify the sender’s legal business name and contact information and that the message include a mechanism to allow the recipient to opt out of receiving future CEMs. Another provision: senders cannot request express consent from their intended recipients by sending them an electronic communication.
“Fortunately, there are exceptions to the CASL consent requirement,” Mr. Schiavone and Mr. Morey note. “Some of the more commonly relied upon exceptions include a CEM sent to an affiliated or related organization, family member, or other party with whom the sender has a personal relationship, and a CEM sent in response to a complaint, request for proposal, or other solicitation of the sender’s goods or services.”
“CASL has altered the landscape for companies that communicate with Canadian parties,” the authors point out. Because the law’s provisions are complicated and its penalties can be harsh, companies with any Canadian contacts will be wise to carefully evaluate their communications policies.