Canada's New Anti-Spam Law

The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission has implemented a new Anti-Spam Law that effects anyone sending out newsletters, mass emails, news communications and anything else that isn't an email directly addressed to the recipient. This law is going into effect July 1, 2014, but penalties won't be assessed until January 15, 2015.

There are 3 main components of the new law:

  • Consent
  • Identification
  • Unsubscribe

Consent is the new main thing you need to worry about. Users have to "Subscribe" or "Opt-In" to your email list. This can be done in a couple different ways.

  • If you have a box on your website where a user signs up for your mailing list, you are fine, they are choosing to opt-in to receiving updates from you via email.
  • If you collect email addresses from your customers/clients via a contact form, and you input their email into your database, that isn't acceptable anymore and you will have to draft and send out an email asking if your subscribers want to continue receiving emails from you.
  • If you verbally ask for an email address and ask if they want to receive updates from you, you are also fine as long as you ask for their permission. Verbal consent is okay.
  • If you have a form on your site where a user is signing up for an account, you can no longer have the "Receive updates from us" box pre-checked. That is "Assumed Consent" and is no longer acceptable. If you have that on your site, we will have to change it for you, or you will have to get your programmer to make the change for you.

This is generally not a problem for any of our users, but when sending an email, you have to correctly identify who you are. This mainly applies to the Spam-Bots that hack email accounts and send out email as someone else.

Going forward whenever you send out a newsletter or mailing, you will need to have an unsubscribe button somewhere on your email. If you use akiMail, this is easy and you probably already have this within your templates or newsletters, but if you send out mass emails to a large group of people manually (for example you enter 40 people into the "To" field in Outlook) you can no longer do that, unless you know how to put an unsubscribe button in the email and actually remove them from your future mailings, but do you want to risk being fined?

Failing to do any of the above, gives the recipient of your emails the authority to report you as Spam and can lead up to very large fines from the Government (up to $1M).

You're probably wondering: "So what does this mean to me? And what should I do about it?"

First you have to figure out where you fall in the category of "How did I get these email addresses?" If you manually enter them from comment cards, or a user's account, you should probably think about drafting an email asking if your users want to continue to receive newsletters/emails/blog posts from you.

The email could say something as simple as, "Hello, remember us? We've collected your email somewhere over the years and want to make sure that you still want to receive any future updates/newsletters from us. If you do, please click here to stay apart of our list or reply saying you want to! If not you can unsubscribe below or we will take your lack of response as a no." This may require some additional programming. If you use our mailing system, akiMail, we will create a new list for your new subscribers to Opt-In to, and it will create a page they can confirm their email address on your mailing list.

If you aren't using a mailing system, such as akiMail or other emailing systems, you will have to switch over to one. They do cost money, but unfortunately, it's now the law to have these options and requirements. This means you can no longer send out mass emails to large groups manually. This includes CC'ing and BCC'ing groups of people for one particular email that is outside of your organization. Each email has to be personalized, or sent individually.

For more information about our own mailing system, akiMail, click here to see pricing and read more about it.

If you have any questions, or need assistance sending out an email. Please let us know!