The Canadian Anti Spam Law affects recruiters worldwide.

Written by Andrew Rothman on . Posted in Industry, News, Topics

The Canadian Anti Spam Law (CASL), which was designed to stop spam from being sent to Canadians, goes into effect July 1, 2014. Many people remain unfamiliar with the law, even within Canada, despite its serious potential impact for any business that sends commercial email to Canadian recipients. So what is this law and how does it affect recruiters, staffing agencies, and HR sourcing pros?

WHAT does CASL apply to?

In short, any email, text, or direct social networking message that actively or passively promotes your services or your current job openings could be placed into the category of communications affected by this law.

  • CASL applies to any "Commercial Electronic Message" (CEM). A CEM is defined as any electronic message (emails, texts, some social media messages) that contains a message which encourages the recipient to take part in some type of commercial activity. This includes e-newsletters that contain a link to a sponsor's website, client satisfaction surveys, mass emails providing general information about your business or organization, etc. It also covers emails requesting consent to send future emails.
  • There are exemptions from the rule for certain types of messages. For example, you are allowed to send a single CEM to someone without prior consent based on a referral, as long as the full name of the person making the referral is disclosed in the message.

WHO does CASL apply to?

The law is very broad, applying to all CEMs sent to anyone in Canada or by anyone in Canada.

  • CASL stipulates that Commercial Electronic Messages cannot be sent TO or FROM anyone in Canada without express prior consent. Even if your company is outside of Canada, any emails sent to Canadian jobseekers, partners, or clients fall under the stipulations of the law. Although it may prove difficult to prosecute violators outside of Canada, the the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has stated that it will work with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the US, and other regulatory commissions to enforce this law.
  • There are exemptions from the "express consent" rule for limited periods of time and under certain "implied consent" circumstances. Implied consent includes recipients who have made a purchase or your product or service, made a business deal, contract, or membership with your organization in the past 24 months. Implied consent also includes a 6-month period following an application or inquiry. If you haven't gotten express consent to continue sending CEMs within the implied consent period, you are required to stop sending CEMs at the end of the 6-month or 24-month time frame.

WHAT are the penalties for violating CASL?

Unlike other anti-spam rules (such as the USA's 'CAN-SPAM' law) Canada's anti-spam law has been given very large, sharp teeth.

  • The maximum administrative penalty for a violation by a business is $10 million, and directors and officers may be personally liable for their company's violations.
  • Individuals can be fined up to $1 Million.
  • Up until June 30, 2017, the penalties will be administrative only. After July 1, 2017, the law allows individual suits against violators. Receivers of illegal messages can sue for $200 per individual transgression up to $1 Million per day. Additional penalties may be levied for altering transmission data and other violations.

HOW can I comply with CASL?

Some of the stipulations for complying with CASL are the same as those for complying with the US CAN-SPAM law. Make sure that your emails include the following:

  • Your name (or the name by which you conduct business if different) in your messages.
  • Your physical mailing address plus either a telephone number, web address, or email address in your messages.
  • A link to a method of unsubscribing from future messages which takes effect within 10 days.

In addition to the above, but differing from CAN-SPAM:

  • Recipients must give express consent to receive your messages. This consent can be oral or written, although written consent is clearly better should questions arise.
  • You must retain a record of your consent confirmations.
  • Methods for collecting consent via a form must be clear and affirmative. The person opting in must check a box or perform some other action which is clearly marked with a description of its purpose. Asking the person to un-check a pre-checked box is not allowed.

HOW can PCRecruiter help me comply?

Although PCRecruiter has offered "unsubscribe" tracking for many years, the new CASL law has generated changes in how email is handled.  The next system update will include an 'opt-in / opt-out' function which can be used in form letters, custom forms, email signatures, and job board links. The system will also include methods for tracking the 6-month and 24-month 'implicit' permission allowed under the law.   The system will apply these settings automatically when sending email communications.  PCRecruiter also gains new options for adding and removing multiple email addresses from the opt-in/out lists, as well as capabilities for exporting and importing email addresses in CSV format.

If you send email to anyone in Canada, or you operate business in Canada, you will want to become familiar with this new law and make sure that your electronic communications comply with it.  This information is not intended as an offering of legal advice; please consult with your applicable legal authority regarding the CASL or any other compliance activities that you may undertake.  

If you desire assistance with implementing features in PCRecruiter, please contact your Main Sequence representative.

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Comments (2)

  • Jordan Freireich


    Would like there to be a way to easily see who has opted in/out when viewing a name record or in a rollup list.


    • Andrew Rothman


      Thanks for reading the blog, Jordan! The email addresses are stored in a separate database,┬áso that you don’t have a situation where someone opted out in database A and continues to get email from database B, or where someone’s name record is deleted and re-added later and they start getting email again. Because the email list is not part of the database, doing a lookup for each email on a the rollup, or checking the email against the database when a name is loaded would slow things down. To keep performance speedy, they decided not to include any indicator for now. That said, the current setup was just to get the basic compliance going and┬áthere are more features planned around this down the line, so it may be added later.


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