6 Month Countdown to Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL)

Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) has been a long time coming.  The Government of Canada announced today that most of CASL’s provisions will enter into force on July 1, 2014.  That will be 10 years from the time the Government of Canada launched its Anti-Spam Action Plan. 

In recent years, a steadily increasing number of organizations within and outside Canada have been monitoring CASL’s status.  Among the reasons:  CASL is a new regime, contains a private right of action,  provides for significant administrative monetary penalties (maximum $10 million), and is broader in scope than the anti-spam laws of the US and other countries.  Some organizations have already begun to take steps and adopt practices intended to allow them to comply with CASL.

As of today, with the publication of the long-awaited Industry Canada Regulations, the CASL “rulebook” now includes the following legislation, regulations and guidance documents.  

Affected organizations will be relying on certain limited provisions under CASL to phase in requirements, intended to allow businesses to get ready and to adjust to the new regime.  These include the 6-month “implementation period” until July 1, 2017, and the 3-year “transitional period” until July 1, 2017, during which existing business relationships will be grandfathered, for consent purposes. 

While the above provide a bit of breathing room, there is a great deal to be done for organizations affected by CASL.  This may involve: auditing online communications processes, contact lists, and database practices; updating forms and procedures that document consent; updating customer service processes; reviewing and updating contracts that deal with third-party communications; and providing information and training for employees, management and the Board of Directors.  Affected organizations should proceed with their review and compliance work as soon as possible. 

We will be updating this blog regularly with posts on compliance tips and new developments.  You may be interested in the Slideshare presentation Comparing CASL to CAN-SPAM, which summarizes how the Canadian and US anti-spam regimes differ, considering their respective scope, standard of consent, application, and penalties.