How to communicate online and not break the law

The rules are changing for businesses who communicate via email, social media and text message to people in Canada, and you need to be in the know now (otherwise it will soon apparently cost us…millions!). Canada’s new anti-spam law has been described as the world’s toughest, and the CASL has provided strict guidelines that will prohibit you from sending commercial electronic messages (CEM) without “proper” consent. As we have unfortunately come to expect from our government, this new legislation will most likely do less to stop the big bad spammers, than it will to burden and hurt small businesses who already have ethical practices, and are doing lots of good. As I constantly say, if you aren’t outraged, then you just aren’t paying attention! Since we have been asked by so many clients how to manage these new rules, with as little bandwidth as possible, we’ve created a little summary and some clicks in the right direction.

Jeff Ginsberg from The eMail Company (who we adore and always trust) says “It all comes down to where you got your email address from. If you have opted them in when they subscribed to your newsletter, then you can carry on with your best practices with confidence.”

THE DATE: Most of the Act comes into effect July 1st, 2014. From this day forward you will need consent from any new contact, you will need to clearly identify yourself, and offer the ability to unsubscribe.

APPLIES TO: These new rules apply to all CEM sent via email, telephone, instant messaging, or any similar account (think of all your social platforms, too).

MUST HAVES: In EVERY message you must clearly indicate who you are, how to reach you, and give an option to unsubscribe easily, for free, without delay and for 60 days. This is simple, and you are probably already doing this, especially if you are a client of ours – full transparency and authenticity always!


Express Consent means that someone has explicitly opted in to your mailing list. If your contact has signed up on your website, for example, and then confirmed, you have proof of their consent, and can carry on as you have been. For the other contacts you’ve acquired (even at trade shows, birthday parties, or on a handwritten email sign up form), once the law comes into effect, you won’t be able to email them to even ask them to opt-in (this is considered CEM), which is all the more reason to get requesting proper consent right now!

With Implied Consent, some previous relationship exists, but the conditions of express permission have not been met (for example, emails you received on a sign up sheet at a trade show or a friend who verbally asked you to send them your content). Once you have Implied Consent, you have two years to gain Express Consent.


  1. Put your outrage, frustration, and resentment towards our governments’ ways aside, you have a business to focus on.
  2. Review the new legislation, and then read this article from Elite Email, that makes way more sense!
  3. Kindly reach out to all implied contacts before July 1st and ask them to opt in – don’t wait until the last day of June, start now!
  4. Organize your contacts, and plan to delete the ones you do not have express consent before July 1, 2014.
  5. Put “Expiry” measures into place to remove illegal contacts when the time limit expires (this will make sense once you read the Elite Email link as above – don’t delay!)
  6. Use an email service if you aren’t already (like Constant Contact, or Mail Chimp) to help manage contacts and email campaigns.
  7. Develop a system for recording your consent, in case you need to be able to prove it. It’s always good practice to be prepared!

Embrace the change. AND, remember to opt-in to all of those emails that you’ve signed up for, too (like ours). Those businesses want you as much as you want your contacts!