CASL Countdown for B2B Marketers

The Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL) takes effect in just over a month (July 1, 2014) and B2B marketers need to be ready.  The major difference between CAN-SPAM and CASL is explicit opt-in.  CAN-SPAM is more of an opt-out law, where CASL is an opt-in law with express consent.  Many of the same rules apply such as unsubscribe, postal address (location), etc., but CASL takes permission and consent to another level.  Even though CASL is much more stringent about email opt-ins, it is a good idea to take this strict level of permission for all emails you send to and not just those in Canada.


Adopting stricter permissioning and consent for your email program will not only keep you in compliance, but will also help your overall email deliverability.  Here are some points to note as you prepare your organization for CASL:

Scope – CASL applies to all commercial electronic messages, which not only includes email, but also SMS, instant messages, and social media posts.  It also covers email coming from within or outside of Canada to Canadian residents.

Inventory – Take inventory of your lists, forms, and other media.  Make sure all sign-up forms include checkboxes for permission that are NOT checked by default.  CASL require explicit permission for opt-ins and a pre-checked box will not work.

Content – Take Inventory of your current digital marketing programs such as newsletters, forms, landing pages, transactional emails, SMS/MMS, and social media.

Unsubscribes – Be aware, all unsubscribe links are needed in transactional messages so subscribers can opt-out from future emails. In addition -these same transactional messages cannot contain any promotional material either.

Relationships – If you have an existing business or non-business relationship that already includes communication by commercial electronic message, you will have three years to upgrade the implied consent to express consent.  This will be a hard date, no exceptions, so best to prepare now and get the consents stored in the database.

Document it – It is a good idea to have proof of opt-in just in case a CASL issue arises.  Here are a few good data points to store for your email addresses:

  •     Type of opt-in (paper, landing page, phone call, etc.)
  •     Example of sign-up form/webpage
  •     Date of opt-in
  •     Recipient’s IP address

Costs – Heavy fines for non-compliance including:

  •     $10 million per violation for a corporation
  •     $1 million per violation for individuals

As CASL draws closer to becoming law, many are waiting to see if any changes occur after the law becomes active.  If you are using a marketing automation platform (MAP) or email service provider (ESP), discuss with them what precautions they are taking for you.  Also inquire about additional data that can be stored for CASL compliance. It’s best to have all the information about how CASL may impact your business prior to the law being enacted.

The deliverability and compliance strategists at ANNUITAS are here to help answer questions and to get your organization better prepared for CASL. Send us an email if you need assistance.

Author: Chris Arrendale, CIPM,CIPP/US, CIPP/IT, MCTS @arrendale Chief Deliverability and Privacy Strategist, ANNUITAS

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