Concerned About New Anti-spam Laws? Get Consent Now

Lora Bentley

Not long ago, I mentioned that Canada adopted a new anti-spam law at the end of 2010 that will change the way a lot of companies manage their email and other messaging campaigns.


Slide Show

Nine Rules to Avoid Looking Like Spam

General rules you should consider when developing email communications.

Unlike the U.S. CAN-Spam Act, Canada's new law, which was adopted in December but has yet to be enacted, requires companies sending commercial electronic messages (email, texts, Facebook or Twitter posts, etc.) to or from Canada to obtain consent from the intended recipient before the message is sent. And once that consent is secured, it is the sender's responsibility to store proof of consent in the event a complaint arises regarding the message.


Exceptions to the prior consent requirement include, among others, facsimile transmissions, messages sent to those with whom the sender has an existing business relationship, and messages sent to those who have expressly requested messages from the sender, and messages sent to those who have "conspicuously published" their addresses without indicating that they do not want to receive unsolicited commercial messages.


When I spoke to Zero Spam COO David Poellhuber last week, he said the law should be enacted by the last quarter of this year. That doesn't give those to whom the requirements will apply much time to get ready, so he suggested they use the time they do have wisely. Failing to comply could result in fines and/or being blacklisted, which would prevent messages from entering or leaving Canada.


Realize that "the business of buying and selling lists is dead," Poellhuber told me. Though the actual buying and selling of lists is not illegal, using them once you do have them will be. Clean up your address lists. Have you removed those who have asked to be removed?


Make sure you have technology in place to handle unsubscribe requests within 10 business days, as the law requires. Moreover, don't overlook the fact that the burden to provide proof of consent in the event of a complaint or dispute rests on the sender. Do you have the tools with which to store that consent yet ensure that it is easily retrievable upon request? If not, find a way to get them.


Above all else, though, Poellhuber said, "The time to get consent is now." Now, as in before the the law is enacted-before it becomes illegal to send a message requesting permission to send further messages.

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