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Canada’s 150th Birthday is in Good Company

On July 1, 2017 Canada turns 150 years old. Canadians everywhere will be commemorating a century-and-a-half of maple leaves, beavers, Canadian geese, maple syrup, Molson Canadian, hockey, poutine, and Bob & Doug Mackenzie. But something else distinctly Canadian is happening on July 1, 2017: the transition period for Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL) is coming to an end. [Cue fireworks-like oohs and ahhs.]

The basics of CASL
We’ve all experienced the immense frustration caused by an inbox clogged with spam. Daily, weekly or monthly emails regarding discounts on paleo cookbooks for your dog, or buy-one-get-one-free offers for pour-over coffee apparatus can be a pain, unless you really want to get them.

Enter the Government of Canada. In response to these sometimes-annoying messages, the government enacted CASL on July 1st, 2014. The law sets out the general rule that individuals or companies cannot send you unsolicited emails for commercial purposes (called CEMs or commercial electronic messages) unless they have your express or implied consent (I get into what exactly is consent in a later post).

So, what happens on July 1st?
Well, other than you enjoying a long weekend BBQing, lighting fireworks, and waving a Canadian flag, the CASL transition period expires on July 1, 2017 (Happy 150, Canada!).

When CASL took effect on July 1, 2014, the government knew that businesses would need some time to get ready, and gave them a three-year hall pass for sending spam where implied consent was based on the existence of a business relationship with the recipient at any point in time.  Did you sell Jim a piece of hardware 4 years ago and want to inform him about your latest model?  No problem… during the transition period.

Starting July 1, 2017 (in general) implied consent can be established where a relationship exists under the following circumstances:

What can I do now?

Remember, the sender of the message is the one that has to prove that it had the necessary consent from message recipients (or that some other exemption applied… and there are exemptions, which will be explained in our coming post about consent under CASL).

Still confused? You’re not alone. This stuff is complicated and the implications of not complying can be pretty serious.  We are always happy to walk you through CASL as it relates to your business, to help you assess your risk and advise you on what is required in the post-transition period.

Then you can get back to planning your Canada Day BBQ.

Samantha Schreiber

Samantha was the first employee lawyer to join Spark LLP, joining the firm in early 2017. She assisted with the firm’s litigation matters for two years before deciding to leave and join a mid-sized Bay Street firm.

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