CASL stands for “Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation”. CASL comes into force on July 1, 2014. If the concept of CASL is new to you, you can read up on it at http://fightspam.gc.ca/eic/site/030.nsf/eng/home. CASL has the potential to have a profound impact on how we connect and market in the workplace.
Lots of organizations connect with HR Professionals. They invite them to seminars. They distribute newsletters and they send information and promotional material about products and services. They offer membership. They offer benefits. They do so through email, LinkedIn In-mails and other electronic means. These activities may be considered “commercial activity” and fall within the parameters of the legislation.
According to the website of the overseeing body, when the new law is in force, it will generally prohibit the:
- sending of commercial electronic messages without the recipient’s consent (permission), including messages to email addresses and social networking accounts, and text messages sent to a cell phone.
- alteration of transmission data in an electronic message which results in the message being delivered to a different destination without express consent.
- installation of computer programs without the express consent of the owner of the computer system or its agent, such as an authorized employee.
- use of false or misleading representations online in the promotion of products or services.
- collection of personal information through accessing a computer system in violation of federal law (e.g. the Criminal Code of Canada).
- collection of electronic addresses by the use of computer programs or the use of such addresses, without permission (address harvesting).
Anyone who does actively markets to HR Professionals should be gaining express consent to be contacting those individuals via electronic means or risk a violation of the legislation. Given the level of potential fines, not making the investment in confirming that indeed your target audience actually wants to hear from you could be a very costly mistake.
What will life be like after CASL comes into force? I wonder about this. There are some folks who are so fed up with SPAM today that the minute they receive their first offside message, they are going to report it. There are going to be employers who designate individuals as being responsible for being the acceptor of general sales messages, making consent easier to address. There may be increased opportunity for websites who hold relevant news or industry data to increase their site advertising. The telephone may make a comeback. Or maybe, all of this legislation is just too little, too late, in a world where the senders of SPAM could be thousands of kilometers away and out of the reach of the enforcers.
HR Professionals likely have a load of work to do to establish internal policies that are CASL compliant. I recently saw an “Acceptable Use” corporate policy for sending e-mails that was 7 pages long and it was full of more don’ts than do’s.
CASL even has implications for The EO List. While the EO List itself does not focus on marketing, there is a commercial nature to our e-mail content. For that reason, we have gone the route of obtaining express consent of the network to send our Friday distribution. We’ve also upgraded our systems to make opting in and unsubscribing clearer and easier to do. You will see all of these changes implemented by the time of our July 11th distribution.
CASL has a side-effect that perhaps not everyone has thought of–cost. Use EO as an example. A long time ago, The EO List was small and there was no cost to distribute and it took little time and effort to put an e-mail together to send to our network members. Today, it actually costs to use our existing method, and will cost substantially more once we move to a more-compliant methodology. We have to figure out how to pay for that.
To a certain extent, CASL is an impetus to change. We’ve been doing things the same way for a long time. We are going to have to rearrange our website to be more attractive to sponsors and advertisers so that we have sufficient funds to keep this going. In turn as a member you will see continued improvements including e-mails that work better on a variety of devices.
Stay tuned. The storm is on the horizon.