Industry Canada released its final regulations to Canada’s anti-spam legislation (CASL) on December 4, 2013.

Bottom line: Canada’s new anti-spam law will take effect on July 1, 2014, and it includes significant penalties for violations. Organizations should review the various messages they send out to ensure compliance by the deadline.

CASL regulates the sending of “commercial electronic messages” (CEM) (defined broadly to include text, sound, voice and image messages) sent to an email, instant messaging, telephone or similar account. In general, absent certain exceptions, CASL prohibits the sending of CEMs unless the recipient has provided express or implied consent and the message complies with prescribed form and content requirements.

Industry Canada’s final Electronic Commerce Protection Regulations set out:

  • The definitions for personal and family relationships (which may be relevant for certain viral marketing initiatives)
  • A list of messages excluded from CASL, including an exception for electronic messages sent on certain platforms
  • Rules for the use of consents obtained by third-parties

Industry Canada also announced that CASL will come into force, in part, on July 1, 2014. The private right of action under the Act will not be in force until July 1, 2017, and the computer programming provisions will not be in force until January 15, 2015.

The penalties for CASL violations are significant. The Act allows the CRTC to impose administrative monetary penalties of up to C$1 million per violation for individuals and up to C$10 million per violation for businesses. The Act also provides for a private right of action, allowing consumers and businesses to take civil action against anyone who violates the Act. In this case, the court may order violators to pay compensation in the amount equal to the loss or damage suffered or expenses incurred, and statutory damages of up to C$200 for each violation of the Act, up to a maximum of C$1 million each day.