It’s a Crime, Eh? Don’t Send Unauthorized Email to Canadians

It’s a Crime, Eh? Don’t Send Unauthorized Email to Canadians

Our neighbors to the north have a reputation for unfailing politeness and welcoming people to their country. Opinions differ as to whether this trait is more genetic or cultural. Regardless, rudeness is frowned upon, as far as I know, and I’m guessing that rudeness would also  involve such things as not dropping in unexpectedly or making repeated unwanted phone calls.

Or not sending unwanted emails?

Apparently, the Canadian government thinks so, and it’s done something about electronic “rudeness.”

If you live in or near America’s neighbor to the North and electronically market to Canadian citizens, you could be breaking the law right now and not even know it.

Starting July 1 last year, Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation, or CASL, affects every person and business sending email to Canadian citizens.

The most important part of the law to remember is that you must have explicit (not implied) permission from the recipient to send email marketing to anyone in Canada. This differs from our CAN-SPAM act here in the U.S., which allows you, as a business, to email someone with whom you have a business relationship and they must opt-out if they want to stop getting your emails.

CASL is meant to stop black-hat style emails, but in doing so it is one of the most aggressive anti-spam laws in the world. One way it accomplishes this is through the penalties for violation:

How does a $10 million fine sound?

How about criminal charges?

Canadians may be lovely people, but I doubt that their prisons come up to that standard.

It gets even better: for now, the Canadian government has to bring any charges for violation of CASL. But in 2017, Canadian citizens themselves can initiate such action.

Remember, this affects businesses from ANY country, including the US, that email Canadian citizens. So for our Canadian readers and those of you in the northernmost parts of the northernmost states, this means you.

Fortunately, you have until July 1, 2017, to comply with the law. So, for the next year and a half, you need to start asking all of your current email recipients to opt-in to your email messages.

At SmartBox Web Marketing, that is already our standard operating procedure. We and our clients will have no problems complying with this law. If you are emailing or otherwise electronically marketing to Canadian citizens, consult an attorney, Google the law and become more informed.

However, that “otherwise electronically marketing to” means that this isn’t just about your marketing emails. CASL also applies to text and instant messages, and any similar messages sent to electronic addresses. So, your social media marketing practices may also need to be scrutinized; we’re not attorneys, but it seems likely that a Facebook “Like” or following you on Twitter will no longer establish consent to receive marketing offers.

Canadians may be polite, but they can certainly write laws with sharp teeth. Pay attention to your email and other electronic marketing opt-ins to Canadian citizens, and you won’t get bitten.




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About the author
Colin Receveur is a nationally recognized speaker, author, and dental web marketing expert who has pioneered the way dentists market themselves online for the past decade. Since incorporating in 2001, Colin has established a rock solid track record with his dentist clients and turned SmartBox into a stalwart of proven results for hundreds of dental practices.