CASL Hits Next Week – Are You Ready?

CASL – Canada’s new anti-spam legislation – becomes law on July 1. It is a sledgehammer to kill a fly approach to spam that requires attention by almost every business and not for profit. In my view, the significant amount of time, effort, and money that it will take for legitimate businesses and not for profits to comply with the act will come nowhere close to justifying any meagre benefit.

Many business have complied, many are just waking up to it now, and many are ignoring it. It doesn’t help that the act has a broad definition of spam that goes way beyond the drugs, diets and deals emails that the average person would consider spam – then picks away at it with a myriad of convoluted exceptions. Many can’t believe that such an act was passed in the first place. But CASL is not going away any time soon. At some point someone is going to take a run at the constitutionality of it – but that could take years.

Given the significant potential sanctions for non-compliance, resistance is futile.

If you have not taken steps to comply yourself, do it now.

When you get an email requesting consent, do the sender (and yourself) a favour and grant your consent if it is something you want to keep getting. If the email is for something you don’t want, or from someone you have never heard of before that is trolling for new contacts, consider unsubscribing instead of just ignoring it – ignoring it is not the same as unsubscribing.


  1. We’re tackling compliance and sorting through all the various degrees of consent among all of the kinds of lists that we have here at Courthouse Libraries BC—and truly it is a headache.
    Our emails are to lawyers, legal advocates, other PLEI groups and public librarians. Some of these signed up for our services and provided email accounts expressly to hear about training opportunities; others opted in to a single newsletter; others to access a collection of ebooks. In some cases, we had merged them into master lists.
    What’s annoying is that we might have express consent for one purpose, but nothing more than implied consent for another.
    To be safe, we will treat all as if express consent was never obtained. Because implied consent only has a shelf life that you want to worry about for so long.
    For a non-profit, the biggest worry is the definition of CEM. It is potentially so broad, and the stuff on is of limited utility. It seems deliberately broad, so we’re not really sure if an offer to do free training, or an offer to complete a survey and win a Kobo, or at point what exactly “activities” become “commercial”.
    We also have libraries who receive grants from us through the Law Matters fund, and they clearly want to know when the deadlines are. A grant is also probably a commercial activity. So are we going to be in a weird bind where we are not able to tell them in an email about grant monies they already applied for unless we convert them into express consent from implied consent after a couple years?

  2. How long before CASL gets struck down as an unconstitutional limit on free expression?

    I’m actually somewhat surprised that someone like the Canadian Banking Association hasn’t challenged this already. It would be a slam dunk (clearly violates section 2, and the government would have an uphill battle on the minimal impairment test), and whatever the legal fees in challenging it would be saved in compliance costs.