chapter 3

Privacy — Anti Spam


The Facts

You cannot send commercial messages (CEMs) by email, text message, social media or any other electronic form without consent.

As a shop owner, you often have the opportunity to collect and use your customers’ e-mail addresses. This can be a valuable resource to increase sales, but be sure to exercise caution when using this information. The Canadian government has addressed these privacy issues by passing Canadian Anti- Spam Legislation (CASL), which came into effect on July 1st, 2014. The act preserves the value of commercial messaging while minimizing the costs and inconveniences of spam. You should take this law seriously because the offense of “spamming” is broad and the penalties are high. It’s up to you as a business owner to prove you’re in compliance.



A commercial electronic message is a message sent electronically that encourages people to participate in some form of commercial activity.

Sending e-mails to customers is a great way to keep them informed about your products and offers. These sorts of communications are defined as “commercial electronic messages,” or CEMs for short. Potentially problematic messages range from emails telling customers about a new sale to offering unsolicited business opportunities.

The law in Canada doesn’t ban these messages, but it does require that you (the sender) provide certain features, information and gain the recipient’s consent. These ensure that the recipient knows exactly who you are and that they can stop the messages from coming if they’re no longer interested.

Your Message

Must Contain

(i) Who is sending the message.
(ii) A way to contact this person.
(iii) An unsubscribe mechanism.

If an issue arises under CASL, it’s your responsibility as the business owner to prove you had consent. This means you must have systems in place to store the permission you’re given. When obtaining consent, you must clearly and simply identify the purpose of the messages that the consumer is agreeing to receive. Also be sure to include your contact information and a short statement explaining that they can unsubscribe at any time. There are a variety of ways to get the required consent.



(i) Based on permission, or "opt-in".
(ii) Sender must prove consent.
(iii) Systems should be in place to keep that consent on record.

Providing a check box accompanied with the required information listed above is an efficient way to gather permission from visitors to your site. This box must be unchecked in its default state so that the consumer actively chooses to solicit the information. When there’s an existing business relationship between the sender and receiver of the CEM, expressed consent may not be required — although it’s always smart to gain consent and record it in case of any challenges. The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has released regulations and bulletins providing advice and clarification on how to comply with the new law. These bulletins, as well as the government website, can help you stay up to date. Complying with this law will allow you to maximize your contact list as a means of marketing, while ensuring that your communications are legal.

Next chapter

4. Privacy — Data Protection

2 min

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