Staying on the right side of Canada’s new spam law!

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If you have an email account likely you’ve been sent some spam – an offer of performance enhancing pills perhaps, or millions of dollars in an account for you. As part of international agreements Canada is introducing new legislation that limits sending electronic messages like emails and texts especially when requesting money. This change in legislation is happening July 1, 2014!

Canada’s anti-spam legislation (CASL) is, lets just say, a ‘ban-all’ approach rather than specifically targeting the type of emails that pedal pills and hoax financial transactions. That said, it’s soon to become law, and there’s no exceptions being made for educational institutions such as schools.

What do you need to do? In a nutshell, you need to have consent before you send any commercial electronic messages requesting any kind of payment for things like trips, lunches etc. Now it would seem that the business world has been given a bit of a break but not so for schools. Businesses can claim an exemption to having consent based on an ‘existing business relationship’ and that gives them ‘implied consent’.

Here’s the kicker, being a student at a school does not give the school or the district consent to send commercial electronic messages. So, should an electronic message go out to a student asking $10 to get them to their next sports game, and the student’s not expressly given consent, you’ll be on the wrong side of the law come July!

So what to do? Get consent. After July 1st you’ll be restricted in sending an electronic message 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.

After July 1st 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 (4.4) Scholantis Newsletter on your website, we have added everything needed to keep you compliant for sending out electronic messages. 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. Just a quick reminder – we’re not your lawyers so take what we say as simply opinion, if you’re at all worried about your compliance with CASL legislation, seek professional advise. Our advice is to get informed and read about the topic, we’ve listed a few articles we found informative: