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Are you in Compliance with Canadian Anti-Spam Law?

by Len Dubois, Sr. Vice President, Marketing & Sales Support, Trillium Software

Canadian-antispamHey marketing people - I hope you're on top of your efforts to comply with Canada's Anti-Spam Law or CASL. Passed in December 2010 (and the deadline for compliance is July 1, 2014... oh my!), the Canadian law prohibits the sending of commercial electronic messages to Canadian contacts without the recipient's implied vs express consent. So, organizations could incur hefty penalties if Canadians report receiving unsolicited marketing messages.

The law's goal is to help protect Canadians from spamming practices while ensuring that businesses can continue to compete in a global marketplace. It is the toughest anti-span law in the world at this point. But, obviously, this is a huge dilemma for marketing organizations that market and sell to Canadian territories or have Canadian prospects.

Many organizations are in scramble mode to identify any Canadian leads and names in their CRM systems, and ensure they understand who has opted into marketing programs or nurture streams. But, with potentially thousands of Canadian contacts, without a strong data quality software solution, your company may find itself conducting marketing practices that violate the law.

Finding data patterns, opt in information, email or web addresses that end in .CA, and regional data are key to effectively protecting yourself from violations. Also, when creating marketing collateral and forms or landing pages, you have to add legalese that alerts contacts or invites them to opt into your marketing program efforts. With the Trillium Software System, for example, you can be sure that your data profiling and analysis initiatives will provide the visibility and data assurance you need to comply with this law.

Even though the law is in force in July 2014, stiff fines will not be handed out until 2015, which gives you plenty of time to implement a strong data governance and quality process to ensure complete compliance. Feel free to take an anti-spam quiz, and I've also included some additional information below. Happy non-spamming.

More information
Canada's new anti-spam law was passed in December 2010 and, following a Governor in Council order, it will enter into force on July 1, 2014. Once the law is in force, it will help to protect Canadians while ensuring that businesses can continue to compete in the global marketplace. On January 15, 2015,sections of the Act related to the unsolicited installation of computer programs or software come into force.

When the new law is in force, it will generally prohibit the:

  • sending of commercial electronic messages without the recipient's consent (permission), including messages to email addresses and social networking accounts, and text messages sent to a cell phone;
  • alteration of transmission data in an electronic message which results in the message being delivered to a different destination without express consent;
  • installation of computer programs without the express consent of the owner of the computer system or its agent, such as an authorized employee;
  • use of false or misleading representations online in the promotion of products or services;
  • collection of personal information through accessing a computer system in violation of federal law (e.g. the Criminal Code of Canada); and
  • collection of electronic addresses by the use of computer programs or the use of such addresses, without permission (address harvesting).

There are three government agencies responsible for enforcement of the law. When the new law is in force, it will allow:

  • The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to issue administrative monetary penalties for violations of the new anti-spam law.
  • The Competition Bureau to seek administrative monetary penalties or criminal sanctions under the Competition Act.
  • The Office of the Privacy Commissioner to exercise new powers under an amended Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act.

It will also allow all three agencies to share information with the government of a foreign state if the information is relevant to an investigation or proceeding in respect of a contravention of the laws of a foreign state that is substantially similar to the conduct prohibited by this Canadian law.

The law will also allow individuals and organizations who are affected by an act or omission that is in contravention of the law to bring a private right of action in court against individuals and organizations whom they allege have violated the law. Once into force, the private right of action will allow an applicant to seek actual and statutory damages. Statutory damages may not be pursued if the person or organization against whom the contravention is alleged has entered into an undertaking or has been served with a Notice of Violation.

Before filing a lawsuit against an individual or organization, get legal advice. An individual or organization could be responsible for paying considerable legal fees incurred by the alleged violator if they file an improper claim or one that is not considered to have merit.

Len Dubois Len Dubois
Sr. Vice President, Marketing & Sales Support, Trillium Software

Len has been with Harte-Hanks for thirteen years and has more than fifteen years experience selling and marketing high-technology solutions. He is responsible for the strategic development and execution of worldwide marketing initiatives for Trillium Software. He created the Trillium Software System® brand that has been recognized as one of the top enterprise solutions in the data quality industry. Prior to coming to Harte-Hanks Trillium Software, Mr. Dubois was a Marketing Manager for Epsilon Data Management, Inc. He has spoken at Data Quality conferences in both the U.S. and UK. In addition, he has authored many articles on Data Quality and CRM.

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