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Confused about CASL? Read on…

Confused about CASL? Read on…
By Diane Wolf

CASL stands for Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation, and it is important that you understand how it affects you and your business in terms of commercial electronic messages (CEMs). These may include emails, text messages, and some social media posts. The legislation came into effect in stages over the last several years, but here is a summary of what you need to know.

Please note the C in CEM stands for Commercial! This is a message intended to solicit business. The legislation does not apply to messages you send to provide information, or to greet clients. If someone has given you the email address of someone they are referring you to, you are also allowed to send one message to that person, ensuring that it is clear that they can unsubscribe from receiving further messages. You must also give the full name of the person who referred you. For example, if our President told me that you might be interested in working with me, I could email you with the following subject line: “Tracey Ormond recommended I contact you”.

You may not send CEMs to people without their consent. It gets tricky though, because there is an implied consent in some cases. For our purposes, you MAY send CEMs to other WBN members, but you must be sure to include an option for them to unsubscribe to avoid receiving further messages. You must keep track of who has unsubscribed, so that if you download a new member list, you must remove anyone who has previously unsubscribed.

Implied consent is also present when you contact a business whose email address is published clearly, for example on their website. You may also send CEMs to people with whom you have an existing business relationship. If someone has purchased your product or service within the last 24 months, they are deemed to have given implied consent. Again, in both cases, you must provide a way for someone to unsubscribe in order to avoid receiving further messages.

You may also get express consent, where you have someone fill out information requesting that you contact them or sign up for a mailing list. You must make sure you let them know what you are obtaining consent for, what you’ll send them, and ask for their name and contact info. You must also state that they may unsubscribe at any time. This is the kind of thing you might use at a trade show where people sign up to receive your newsletter.

How does this all work for WBN practically? You may use the member list and send a mass email to all members. We recommend that you put something in the subject line like “fellow WBN members” so the recipient understands that you are using WBN membership as implied consent (there is a section under CASL where you may send CEMs to people who are in the same organization as you are). So, the FIRST email you send to the list would not be considered spam. You must, however, immediately remove anyone who unsubscribes, and not contact them again unless they ask you to put them back on your list. It goes without saying that if someone unsubscribes, you shouldn’t phone them either, even though a voice mail is not an electronic message. It may still really annoy them.

If you gather business cards at your table during a meeting, again feel free to send a nice message. Simply saying you enjoyed meeting them or would like to have coffee does NOT constitute a CEM as there is no commercial intent. If you add them to your mailing list, however, this is a CEM and you must provide a way for them to unsubscribe.

There are hefty fines for breaking the rules, but if you are careful to only send CEMs to people who want to receive them, you will be fine. Again, making sure that you put WBN in the subject line or early in the email will help the recipient to understand why they are receiving the message.

Diane Wolf
Diane Wolf Consulting wwww.dianewolf.com
Encouraging, educating, and empowering communicators for more than 30 years! Find my podcast, Presentation Professor, at iTunes!