Canada's Law on Spam and Other Electronic Threats
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About the law
Canada's anti-spam legislation (CASL) came into effect July 1, 2014. It is in place to protect Canadians while ensuring that businesses can continue to compete in the global marketplace.
If you use electronic channels to promote or market your organization, products or services, Canada's new anti-spam law may affect you.
On January 15, 2015, new rules about installing computer programs came into force. It is now illegal to install programs, such as malware, on someone's computer without consent.
It is your duty to understand and comply with the law.
Do you use email, SMS, social media or instant messaging to send commercial or promotional information about your organization to customers, prospects and other important audiences?
Do you install software programs on people's computers or mobile devices?
Do you carry out these activities in or from Canada?
Get the facts
email or my current email list
to promote my products
- you have previously provided your products or services to them and
- they haven't told you to stop.
post promotional information
on social media.
CASL applies to emails, text and instant messages, and any similar messages sent to electronic addresses.
CASL does not apply to promotional information you post online in places like blogs or social media.
The 36-month transitional provision provides time to adjust and seek express consent from pre-existing clients.
Canada's anti-spam legislation (CASL) receives royal assent. It is not brought into force to allow for further consultations on the new regulations that it created.
The CRTC calls for comments on its proposed regulations under the Act.
Draft regulations are pre-published in the Canada Gazette, Part I for a 60-day comment period.
Fightspam.gc.ca is launched, a new website dedicated to helping Canadians better understand and prevent spam.
Final CASL regulations and the date that the Act will come into force are announced.
The Competition Bureau, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and the CRTC agree to work together to implement their mandates under CASL.
Digital Privacy Act introduced in Parliament
CASL comes into force, introducing new rules that will protect Canadians from malicious spam online.
Additional measures under CASL that will better protect Canadians from viruses and malware, come into force.
The sections that deal with the private right of action come into force.
July 1, 2014—The law came into effect:
- You can't send a commercial electronic message if you don't at least have implied consent.
- You have 36 months* to obtain express consent from your past clients or customers.
- You can now report spam.
*This period ends if/when recipients indicate that they no longer consent to receiving your commercial electronic messages.
January 15, 2015—New rules about installing computer programs came into force:
- CASL applies if you install or cause the installation of software on someone's device without consent.
- CASL doesn't apply to owners or authorized users installing software on their own computer systems.
- Get more details about the new rules.
Better safe than sorry—Violating CASL has a price
Legitimate complaints about unsolicited emails may be turned over to the CRTC, which may investigate to determine if the message violates CASL.
If you are judged to be in violation, the CRTC has a range of enforcement tools available.
There are no automatic penalties for violations. The CRTC judges each case based on a series of factors, including the nature of the violation, your history with CASL, whether you benefited financially from the violation and your ability to pay a penalty.
Penalties for the most serious violations of the Act can go as high as $1 million for individuals and $10 million for businesses. Civil cases cannot be brought before the courts until July 2017.
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