Canada Leaf FlagIf you’ve got an email list and are sending out ANY emails to it, then you really need to read this right now…

Canada is enacting a law which goes live on 1st July 2014 called the Canada Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL for short), and the basic headline is that if you’re sending any emails to a Canadian citizen then you need to get a double opt-in from them otherwise you could be sued up to $10 million per violation.

Unlike the United States CAN-SPAM act which allows implied consent (where if a user signs up to receive a free download, or purchases a product from you), the new Canadian law requires explicit consent in order for you to send them an email. Also, under the CAN-SPAM act implied consent only lasts for two years anyway, so you should be getting the double opt-in to make sure you’ve got permission.

I’ve seen some sites use a pre-checked box to get consent, but under the terms of the CASL you’d need to not have a pre-checked box (as this implies consent), but you could have a blank box for the user to check to indicate permission.

Personally I’d go for the double opt-in, and not just for the new CASL law or the existing CAN-SPAM act, but rather because having someone confirm their email address with you means that they really do want to be on your list and they will be more receptive to the messages you put out.

In fact, I use InfusionSoft as my CRM and I have rules in place that move people off my lists if they’ve not taken any action, that way I keep my deliverability rates and my reputation scoring higher.

Now the law is clearly intended to go after the full-on spam attacks that plague many a user’s inbox, but it’s seriously not worth the risk, and as it’s not that easy to single out the Canadian people on your list (after all they could have gmail.com addresses, so you won’t know where they’re from) the best thing to do to ensure compliance is to email your list and get the double opt-in.

If it were me doing a clean run at this then I’d send out a message with a free report to download, then when they get to the download page I’d get them to opt-in again and get the double opt-in, that way you’re giving an incentive, and you’re also building a new list of people you know are active.

Reading through the website it looks like if you’ve already got someone on your list with implied consent then you’ve got a grace period of 36 months to get them to double opt-in and give explicit consent, but I wouldn’t hang on, I’d be getting the double opt-in sooner rather than later (if not just to get a cleaner and more responsive list).

I’m not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV, so you should seek legal advice on this if you’re involved in email marketing, and you can get more information about the CASL at their official website here: http://fightspam.gc.ca/ and there is also a good FAQ section on that site as well which has some good information and the link to that is here: CASL Commercial FAQ

Dan.