CASL – Where’s the beef?

On July 1, Canada became a global leader in the fight on SPAM, with CASL (Canada’s Anti-SPAM Legislation) going into effect.  Here are the Top 10 things you need to know about CASL (pronounced “castle).

DISCLAIMER – This is not a legal opinion.  We are not lawyers.  This is our understanding of the legislation.  We have asked ‘experts’ for guidance on certain CASL matters and were told to talk to the lawyers.  That is our guidance to you.  Consider this informative information.

#1  What is CASL?
The purpose of CASL is to ensure that recipients of Commercial Electronic Messages (CEMs) have provided their consent to receive such messages i.e. put an end to SPAM.  All CEMs may only be sent to receivers who have provided consent, the communication must identify the sender and an unsubscribe mechanism must be included in the communication.

#2  What is consent?
There are two types of consent; Express and Implied. Express consent is explicit permission provided electronically, in writing or verbally to receive CEMs.  Implied consent is when a pre-existing relationship is in place e.g. people you have conducted business with or are currently on your e-mail list.

#3  Does consent expire?
Yes and no.  Express consent never expires unless the recipient asks to be removed from the list.  Implied consent expires after 2 years.

#4  Does this mean that I need to call everyone on my list and get their permission?
No, but you do have to reach out to them.  This is why you have been receiving all those CASL e-mails.  In the past there has not been much emphasis on tracking consent.  Under the new legislation you must be able to prove that consent exists by storing proof that consent was provided.  This covers all mediums, it could be physical sign-up sheets from a tradeshow, e-mails confirming consent, or voice recordings of someone verbally providing consent.

#5  I only found out about CASL last week when I started receiving CASL e-mails, what do I do now?
Relax, the legislation has a 3 year transition period for you to come into compliance.   The legislation went into effect on July 1, but “Businesses and people may take advantage of this transitional period to seek express consent for the continued sending of CEMs.” (  That is why you are receiving all these CASL e-mails, the senders want to convert you from implied consent to expressed consent.

#6  So why is everyone bombarding me with e-mails, if I have time.
Not sure, maybe because the early bird gets the worm… then again, the second mouse gets the cheese.

#7  What do I need to do to ensure I am compliant in growing my list.
Focus on getting express consent and not implied consent.  Ask new customers via e-mail if they would not mind receiving your newsletter and store the e-mail response.  At tradeshows explicitly state that the sign-up list is to receive the company newsletter and not just a chance to win an iPad.

#8  Do I need consent to follow up on a referral?
No.  The person providing the referral must have an existing business or non-business relationship (family or personal) with both the sender and the recipient of the CEM.  The CEM must reference the full name of the person who made the referral and a statement that the CEM was sent as a result of the referral.

#9  What about a business card someone gives me, does that imply consent?
Yes, as long as the CEM relates to the recipient’s role or duties and the recipient did not ask not to receive CEMs.

#10 What are the fines associated with CASL.
The fines are up to $1,000,000 for individuals and $10,000,000 for businesses.  CASL is primarily targeted at large mass e-mailers and people with rogue intentions but, that is not say they will not go after the little guy.  So consider yourself warned, you have 3 years, clocks ticking…