New Developments in Anti-Spam Legislation

Owing to the announcement on Wednesday by the Minister of Industry, businesses must use the time between now and July 1, 2014, to prepare for compliance with Canada’s new anti-spam legislation (CASL). 

CASL is intended to create a legislative framework that will help protect Canadians from email spam, malware, and other electronic threats.  Examples of conduct that will be prohibited by CASL are: (i) the sending of commercial electronic messages without consent, (ii) the installation of computer programs without consent, and (iii) the re-routing of electronic messages to unintended destinations.

The majority of the sections of CASL, including those that apply to commercial electronic messages, will come into force on July 1, 2014.  CASL will apply to all commercial electronic messages sent from or accessed in Canada, including emails, messages sent to social networking accounts, and texts.  The consequences of non-compliance may be severe:  fines of up to $10,000,000 for a violation by a corporation, and up to $1,000,000 for a violation by an individual.

Notably, an email asking for consent to send a commercial electronic message is itself considered a commercial electronic message.  Therefore, it is essential that businesses and other persons who deliver commercial electronic messages obtain all required consents now to send commercial electronic messages in the future.

The rest of CASL will be phased in.  Those provisions relating to the installation of computer programs will come into force on January 15, 2015, and the remaining sections, which give individuals a private right of action for non-compliance, will come into force on July 1, 2017.

Two sets of regulations under CASL have been published.  The final version of the first set of regulations includes provisions that set out certain form and content requirements for commercial electronic messages.  The long-awaited final version of the second set of regulations published on Wednesday includes provisions that clarify the scope of application of CASL, which principally expand the scope of exemptions under CASL.