Canadian Anti-Spam Laws: One Year Later


These days, it’s virtually inconceivable that you’d even consider creating a marketing strategy for your brand or client without including an email marketing campaign, which is often considered one of the top ways – aside from social media – to keep your registrants, customers, etc., engaged in your product or service. The way we think about email marketing has certainly evolved over the past few years; these days, aside from concentrating on the layout, design and multi platform functionality, there are also legal aspects that must be considered. Last year, Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) went into effect, requiring all emails sent (by businesses and charities) within Canada to abide by a list of rules, or face stiff financial consequences.

A year later, after the initial ‘panic attack’ by brands and agencies, has the new law been effective? That’s actually a grey area. Overall email volume dropped by 29% over the last year, but there has been no significant change in spam volume. In fact, there have only been 3 instances of the laws actually being enforced in the last 365 days:

  • Quebec based Compu-Finder was found to have four violations of CASL. They sent numerous emails without consent, as well as messages in which the unsubscribe button didn’t function properly. Interestingly, Compu-Finder accounted for 26% of all CASL complaints. They subsequently faced a $1.1 million dollar fine.
  • Plentyoffish Media Inc. (Plentyoffish) agreed to pay a fine of $48K for failing to have an unsubscribe button that was clearly and prominently visible on their emails.
  • Porter Airlines Inc. (Porter) agreed to pay $150K for alleged violations of CASL. Much like Plentyoffish, they failed to have a visible unsubscribe button, as well as a full contact address.

It’s important to keep in mind that enforcement of the CASL is strictly as a result of direct complaints from recipients. Rule of thumb, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Here is a list of items to keep in mind while developing your campaign.

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