Some CASL Clarification

CRTC and Industry Canada representatives provided some insight into their thoughts on CASL (the new anti-spam law that kicks in July 1) in an IT-Can forum on Monday.

To come under the complex CASL rules, the email must be a “commercial electronic message” or CEM. It does not take much to cross that threshold. An example of a law firm emailing details about a new court decision was discussed. If a pure case summary was part of or attached to an email (eg The Supreme Court of Canada today released a decision that decided…), and the email had a standard footer that includes a logo and link to the law firm’s web site, then the wording of the act is broad enough that the mere link makes it a CEM.

The regulator’s view was that while technically you could interpret that as a CEM under CASL because of the link, they would not consider that of a commercial nature. But all it takes to turn that into a CEM is any hint of a promotion of the law firm’s services, such as a sentence that says “We can help…”

In practice, mass emailings may be the easiest type to deal with, as CRM and mailing tools are available to manage the process and track permissions.

The daily emails that employees of organizations send will be more difficult to deal with. Knowing the difference between sending an email that is OK to send because it is not a CEM or is a routine customer interaction, one that requires some sort of consent and an unsubscribe mechanism, and one that you simply can’t send at all, will not be easy for the average person doing their jobs.


  1. David Collier-Brown

    A customer company has to meet all the spam laws of the known world, or at least the English- and French-speaking parts of it.

    They’re also active in social media.

    Net result, they have to separate “editorial” from “advertising”, rather the way a newspaper does.

    It’s not as if it’s hard, but it does require you have a clear understanding of the two worlds. The best idea is to be able to summarize it in a short sentence, or in this case, two words.

    [They also have a real advantage in having international customers, and so are already sensitized to other, more stringent standards]