What is CASL?
CASL stands for Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation. This refers to Bill C-28, which was passed in December 2010 and came fully into force on July 1, 2014.
CASL is intended to eliminate unwanted spam email messages originating in Canada. The legislation restricts Canadian organizations from sending Commercial Electronic Messages (CEMs) without the permission of the recipient, and introduces penalties for groups that send commercial messages without permission.
CASL is NOT a blanket ban on emailing from your organization. Many of the emails you send to your members are still acceptable, and even emails that are subject to CASL regulations can be sent to members who have given consent.
How does CASL affect my organization?
If your organization is based in Canada and sends electronic messages to market your organization, products, or services, then CASL affects you.
CASL says that organizations can only send messages that have a commercial intent to people who have previously agreed to receive them. If you send messages promoting member plans, events, partners, or any other item, CASL requires you to have documented consent from all of your message's recipients.
Emails that you send to your members that provide them with member benefits, or that constitute part of an ongoing relationship between you and your members are exempt from CASL - only messages that include a commercial intent are subject to CASL. Unfortunately, even if your email only includes one link, image, or sentence that is commercial in nature, your email is now considered a Commercial Electronic Message.
What does SilkStart do to comply with CASL?
We effectively categorize all outgoing SilkStart emails into three buckets, so that we can maintain full CASL compliance while still supporting the needs of the association.
- Essential notifications (such as receipts, password reset links, and expiry reminder emails) are whitelisted from SilkStart. These messages are covered under Implicit Consent in CASL, as they are critical to the business relationship between you and your members.
- Non-essential notifications (such as reminders for events you’re registered for and notifications of news posted to the website) are typically sent automatically to members, but the member can opt out of these in SilkStart or from a link in the footer of every email. This type of message is also covered under Implicit Consent, but many members still prefer to not receive these.
- Marketing messages (such as newsletters and event announcements) sent from the Email Campaigns tool are sent to subscribed members only, and unsubscribed members will never receive these messages. Members can opt into receiving email when they join the association, and can change their subscription preferences at any time from their profile, or from a link in the footer of every email.
How can I keep my emails compliant with CASL?
Compliance is a complex issue, but in most cases there are three things you should consider when sending a commercial electronic message:
- Do I have consent to email this person?
Consent can be given explicitly, through someone signing up for your newsletter, or implicitly, through an existing relationship. Consent can always be withdrawn.
- Is my message misleading?
Your message's content must be clear and straightforward. For example, an email with the subject, "Results of our Member Survey," that contained an advertisement for an event would be considered misleading.
- Can recipients opt-out easily?
Commercial messages must all include an easy mechanism for recipients to unsubscribe from future mailings.
SilkStart handles other important factors for you. For example, your messages all contain your organization's mailing address in the footer - meeting the CASL requirement that senders identify themselves clearly.
Keep in mind that if you are using SilkStart's MailChimp integration, members who unsubscribe from a MailChimp email are not automatically unsubscribed in SilkStart.
- Competition Bureau
- Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission
- Ultimate guide to international email law
Note: This article provides plain language information about the law but is not a substitute for the law itself. To ensure total compliance, we recommend you consult the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation text, or contact your legal advisors.