What does Consent mean according to the Canadian Anti-Spam Law

(The thoughts and ideas included in this article are based on my own personal interpretation of CASL and are not intended to provide advice. Discussion is encouraged on these ideas.)

The CASL (Canadian Anti-Spam Law) comes into effect July 1, 2014.  One key aspect of this law is that you cannot send email or any other commercial electronic message (text, social media message) without consent to do so.

expressed consent
They have also stipulated that sending a message to ask for consent is against
the rules.

So what is consent and how does one get it correctly.

There are two forms of consent: implied consent and expressed consent.

Expressed consent means that you have their full permission to send them any information.  When getting expressed consent you must clearly state what type of information you are going to be sending and then stick with that.  Therefore you cannot state you will send them industry news, and then send them advertisements and offers. You must be very clear on what will be sent.Implied consent occurs when you are already engaged in a business activity with an individual.  This mean actual transaction – not just sales activity. So clients qualify for implied consent, prospects do not.

Expressed consent must also clearly state who they are giving consent to. It must have the names of the business or individual to whom consent the individual is giving expressed consent and must also have their contact information.

You must store this information and be able to produce when you obtained expressed consent and the factors relating to the expressed consent (business or people who will be sending out information and the type of information).

Implied consent is also said to be given in two unique circumstances. First if you obtain that email address (or other form of connection) directly from the person and they have not stated they do not wish to receive unsolicited commercial electronic messages.  This is often called the business card exemption.

Second is when the electronic address (email) is published on a public website, and the commercial electronic message sent to that person is relevant to their business, and role within that business.

What about existing email distribution lists – those contacts you have before the Canadian Anti-Spam Law comes into effect on July 1, 2015.

If you have obtained expressed consent – they have actually taken an action to consent to what you are sending – then you can continue to send commercial electronic messages to them. But you must take action to correctly obtain express consent according the requirements in the CASL legislation.

If your existing list of prospects and contacts have not expressed consent in some way to you – you cannot send them any commercial electronic messages (including asking for expressed consent) after July 1, 2014.

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