Businesses that are based or who operate in Canada are required to comply with Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL), which came into effect on July 1st, 2014. In this article, we explain what CASL is and what businesses need to do in order to comply with CASL.
This article is provided as a resource but does not constitute legal advice. If you have more questions about CASL, we encourage you to contact an attorney in your area who is familiar with this issue.
CASL outlines who you are allowed to send a Commercial Electronic Message (CEM) to, and what must be included in these messages. A CEM is any message that is sent to an electronic address or is in electronic format, that promotes a product, service, person, company or organization. This includes emails, instant messages, some social media communications and most importantly text messages.
It is important that you comply with CASL, as you can be fined $1-10M per violation. Furthermore, after July 1st, 2017, individuals will also be able to sue any entity they believe is in violation of CASL.
Implied vs. Express Consent
Under CASL, you must have implied or express consent to send contacts a text message. If a contact has purchased a product from you in the last 24 months, or if they have made an inquiry in the last 6 month, you have their implied consent. If contacts do not meet these criteria, then express consent is required before you can send them text messages.
Express consent is where you have a written or oral agreement that a contact would like to receive text messages.
We always recommend that you make every effort possible to obtain express consent from contacts you are sending text messages too. Given the personal nature of mobile devices, people are extremely sensitivity to messages they receive. The last thing you want to do is spam your customers by sending them unsolicited messages or messages that they do not want to receive. There is no quicker or better way to do irreparable damage to your businesses reputation and brand.
Obtaining Express Consent
Express consent requires that some sort of affirmative action be taken on the part of your customers to indicate that they want to receive text messages. This affirmative action should be captured in writing (e.g. form submission or text message). While oral consent is accepted, it is not recommended, as the onus is on the person who is sending the message to prove they have obtained consent to send the message if ever challenged.
You also must include the following information in your request for consent:
- Business Name
- Information on what they are consenting to
- A statement indicating that you can withdraw your consent at anytime
CASL Text Message Requirements
Whenever you send a text message to a contact, you must always include:
- Your business name
- An unsubscribe mechanism, for example, "Reply STOP to cancel"