Canada and the USA. We enjoy the world’s longest undefended border… a border that unfortunately does not screen spam.

If you are an American attorney with US clients doing business in Canada, then you should be aware of a few things, like our lack of imaginative legislative acronyms, such as the CAN-SPAMAct (from “Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornogrphy And Marketing) (…or while we’re at, who can forget the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property (PROTECT-IP) Act, or the Enforcing and Protecting American Rights Against Sites Intent on Theft and Exploitation (E-PARASITE) Act). Secondly, you should be aware that Canada’s incoming anti-spam law, known as CASL (Canada’s Anti-Spam Law) is coming into force next week, on July 1, 2014. Here are some pointers for US counsel:

  • Remember, an organization’s compliance with CAN-SPAM does not necessarily mean compliance with CASL. This is because of a number of important points of departure between the two laws. Canada’s law has been described as among the strictest internationally.
  • CASL broadly covers all “commercial electronic messages” and is not restricted to email, as is the case with CAN-SPAM. Thus, CASL is broad enough to capture text messages, social media messaging and other forms of electronic messages.
  • CAN-SPAM permits a “negative option” approach to consent, in which toggle consent boxes can be pre-clicked and the user has the ability to opt out by “un-clicking”. CASL prohibits such an approach and requires express consent with an opt-in mechanism.
  • Statutory penalties under CASL are more severe (up to $10 million for organizations, and up to $1 million for individuals), and the law also establishes a broader private right of civil action (which will come into effect in the future).
  • Lastly, CASL does provide for personal liability for directors and officers.