The countdown is on – there are only days left to bring your company communications programs into compliance with Canada’s new spam law. Every day this week, we’re bringing you bite sized information to help you understand your risks, and figure out what to do next.
If you haven’t already taken action and developed a CASL compliance program or you’re not sure your database will be legal next week, take heart. There are still things you can do after the deadline passes to maximize your database retention.
The First Step is Knowing What Programs Are Affected
CASL’s reach is very broad – it applies to all commercial electronic messages (CEMs) sent to or from a Canadian electronic address or accessed from a computer within Canada.
Which begs the questions:
- What is an electronic address?
- What the heck is a CEM?
What is an electronic address?
An electronic address is any address used to send or receive an electronic message. It includes an email account, an IM account, a telelphone number or ‘any similar account’.
Electronic message is defined as a message sent by any means of telecommunication, including a text, sound, voice or image message.
So basically, if you’re sending a message that gets transferred from one electronic device to another via digital means, it’s subject to CASL.
CEM? What is it?
CEM stands for commercial electronic message. It literally means any message that has the purpose of encouraging the recipient to participate in commercial activity. This purpose can be established by the content of the message, because of links within the message to a website that promotes commercial activity or because the contact information contained in the message suggests a commercial nature.
It specifically includes any message that:
- directly offers product, goods, services or land for sale, rent, lease or in barter exchange.
- offers an investment opportunity, business opportunity or gaming opportunity.
- promotes or advertises either of the above.
- promotes a person as being someone who does any of the above, or who intends to do so.
- is a request for consent to send a message that falls into any of the above categories.
If you use the internet to communicate with other people, and you are in business, almost everything you do is subject to CASL.
- If your sales team reaches out to prospects to let them know about a new product, they must first have permission.
- If your sales team reaches out to companies that could benefit from your products and services to introduce themselves and start a dialogue, in the hope of one day making a sale, they must first have permission.
- If you reach out to the owner of another company to introduce yourself and suggest getting together because you think you might be able to work together, you must first have permission.
- If your contact information includes phone numbers or email addresses or other links that might possibly be used to buy products or services from your company, you must first have permission to send the email.
- If someone is slamming your business in social media, even though they’ve never done business with you, and you want to reach out and understand their anger, you must first get their permission.
- If you find an old high school friend on LinkedIn and you reach out to reconnect, hoping that you might do business together, you first need to get permission.
- If your emails contain links to your website, and on your website your promote that you are in business and as such sell products and services, you must first have permission.
- If your emails contain advertisements, links or offers for products and services (whether yours or someone elses), you must first have permission.
- You are required to include said contact information in every email you send.
- The act of asking for permission is itself considered a CEM.
Confused? We can help.