New Canadian Anti-spam Legislation Coming

Do you send email to Canada? Then you’d better plan to meet the requirements of the new Canadian Anti-spam Legislation (CASL) Bill-C28 to be enforced later this year.

Regardless of where your business is located, C28 applies to all types of commercial messages sent from—or to—Canada. Fines and a “Private Right of Action” are built into the law with a potential penalty of $1 million for individuals and $10 million per business per day.

New powers also enable the Canadian enforcement agencies to share and collect information with their international counterparts such as the Federal Trade Commission in the U.S.

Canada’s C-28 goes a step beyond the U.S. Can-Spam Act of 2003 in that it drives a higher standard requiring express consent for most commercial-related messages. It also sets a higher standard requirement for informing consumers about how personal identifiable information—such as an email address or Social Security number—will be used.

With C-28, the burden of proof is on the sender, and marketers must clearly inform consumers about what exactly they are opting in to. Consequently, merchants sending to Canada will have to do just as good a job of articulating their privacy policies as they do marketing their products and services.

Whereas C-28 is consumer-focused, Can-Spam is business-centric. Can-Spam allows marketers to email almost anyone at least once—and maybe more than once—unless the recipient unsubscribes. Read: no “express consent” required!

Basing your practices on Can-Spam alone may keep you out of legal trouble in the U.S., but as a standard, it never did protect your sender reputation with recipients and Internet providers.

Following the express consent requirement of C28, on the other hand, ensures that you are also employing the most important variable that determines sender reputation, deliverability and, ultimately (long-term) ROI.\

Andrew O’Halloran ( is chief privacy officer at Cypra Media, a Montreal-based full-service provider of email marketing campaigns.