Countdown to CASL

July 9, 2014

There are less than two months before Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (“CASL”) comes into force on July 1, 2014. Despite its name, CASL covers much more than mass emails.

CASL is one of the toughest laws of its kind and will have a significant impact on businesses and individuals who send commercial electronic messages (”CEMs”) to electronic addresses. CEMs include emails, texts, messaging and social media messages sent between businesses, from businesses to consumers or even between individuals. In addition to other regulated activities, CASL prohibits the sending of CEMs to a recipient unless they have provided their consent and the message includes certain prescribed information or it is subject to an exemption.

For not for profit organizations, charities, associations and many individuals, a key determination will be whether electronic messages that they send are “commercial” in nature. This is not dependant on the type of entity; rather this determination is based on the nature of the message and whether it encourages participation in a commercial activity, whether or not it involves a profit.

The penalties for non-compliance with CASL are high. They include monetary penalties of up to $10 million per violation for corporations and up to $1 million per violation for individuals. There is extended liability for directors and officers of corporations who may be personally liable for corporate violations. Corporations are vicariously liable for the actions of their employees or agents. As a result, it is more important than ever for businesses to ensure that they have appropriate policies, procedures and systems in place to address this risk.

Read the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s FAQs.

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