Unless you’ve been offline for a while, you probably know that a new anti-spam law goes into effect on July 1.
How can anyone ignore the almost-comical barrage of consent requests being sent in a frantic attempt to conform to the Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL) that will soon make it illegal to send such messages.
I guess it takes spam to reduce spam.
I’ve gotten messages from the Institute for Canadian Citizenship who gave me a Cultural Access Pass, the Import Vintners Association who invite me to tastings, the BC Wine Institute who sends me press releases, and from Black Cloud Winery whose wine club I am a member, among dozens of others.
Even my dentist wants my consent! My dentist, whom I trust with my teeth!
So far, I have not received a consent request from Ashley Madison.com, who constantly reminds me, “Life is short, have an affair!”
Funny that the people who send the emails I want are bending over backward to insure my consent while the creeps who send real spam are hiding.
Not only that, it makes me wonder how the Canadian Anti-Spam Law will affect me as a blogger.
What is the Canadian Anti-Spam Law
Passed in December of 2010 the Canadian Anti-Spam Law prohibits:
“The sending of commercial electronic messages (CEMs) without express or implied consent; the alteration of transmission data in electronic messages in the course of a commercial activity without express consent; and the installation of a computer program on another person’s computer in the course of a commercial activity without express consent.” – crtc.gc.ca
Consent is the operative word here and it’s something that needs to be expressed and not just implied.
It affects the use of email as well as text and social media.
The law considers “commercial” to mean: sale/lease of product/service, investment/business opportunity, promotion of individuals, and requests for consent.
To be expressed, your consent to receive CEMs must state your purposes, include the name of the requester as well as the name of the recipient, contact info, and a statement that consent can be withdrawn, like with an unsubscribe mechanism.
Implied consent can be in the context of a business relationship, a non-business relationship, or through published information. So, if you’ve bought something or simply made an inquiry to a business, that is implied as a business relationship. Donating or volunteering is implied as a non-business relationship.
But implied consent is only kosher for 3 years.
“Consent to send commercial electronic messages (CEMs) is implied for a period of 36 months beginning July 1, 2014, where there is an existing business or non-business relationship that includes the communication of CEMs.”
You’re probably thinking, huh? How does this apply to blogging?
What CASL Means to Bloggers
If I’m not Ashley Madison and I use MailChimp or AWeber to deliver email alerts for my blog posts to an opted-in list of recipients, what should I do?
The way I see it, not much.
If your email service sent your blog subscribers a confirmation email on which they clicked to confirm and received a follow-up message acknowledging their confirmation, then you as a blogger should be good.
You are doubly good if your email post alerts contain an Unsubscribe link.
Here’s MailChimp’s interpretation of the law.
“Express consent is only valid if the following information is included with your request for consent:
- A clear and concise description of your purpose in obtaining consent
- A description of messages you’ll be sending
- Requestor’s name and contact information (physical mailing address and telephone number, email address, or website URL)
- A statement that the recipient may unsubscribe at any time.”
As a blogger using Mailchimp’s Opt-in email services, I don’t think I need annoy my readers with an email asking them to reinforce the consent they’ve already expressed.
But I’m not an email marketer.
If I was a marketer, I would definitely be sending emails to all the people on my list, because I may not be sure they got there through correctly applied Expressed or Implied Consent or through an Opt-in system. Better safe than busted.
The government gives guidance to marketers in the Compliance and Enforcement Information Bulletin CRTC 2012-549.
It covers such things as how to use “toggling,” which is where people check a box to indicate consent and how to use their email submission as consent.
The Canadian Anti-Spam Law law will be enforced by three government bodies: The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the Competition Bureau, and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. Clearly, they’ll have their hands full trying to police everyone’s emails.
But private citizens can also get involved, says said government:
“The law will also allow individuals and organizations who are affected by an act or omission that is in contravention of the law to bring a private right of action in court against individuals and organizations whom they allege have violated the law. Once into force, the private right of action will allow an applicant to seek actual and statutory damages.”
Once caught, the penalties may kill you.
“If you commit a violation under any of sections 6 to 9 of CASL, then you may be required to pay an administrative monetary penalty (AMP). The maximum amount of an AMP, per violation, for an individual is $1 million, and for a business, it is $10 million. CASL sets out a list of factors considered in the determination the amount of the AMP.”
That’s why our email boxes are currently being flooded with requests to “Stay in Touch” and “Confirm your Interest” from people we may or may not know, the responses to which are becoming a bit of a pain.
But it’s nice to know the emails I don’t confirm will go away soon, if that’s what happens.
My List is Good
Like I said, I know my email list is solidly in the Expressed Consent category, so I’m not doing much of anything.
Still, if you are on my email list and are reading this post in an email alert, you are welcome to hit the Unsubscribe button in the footer if you don’t care to continue receiving my weekly words of wisdom.
And I’ll tell you one thing: come Wednesday, I’ll be eager to get an email from Toronto-based Ashley Madison.com, so I can report them for spamming me.
Life is short, pay the penalty.
What do you think about the CASL? Are you sending “Stay in Touch” emails ahead of enactment? And, are people consenting?
Please tell me more in the comments below. I’d love to hear about your efforts and experiences.
And, hey, Happy Canada Day!