If you believe you don't need to pay attention to CASL because you don't utilize email marketing in your business strategy, you might want to think again.
The Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation was made to protect against any violation involving telecommunications including text messaging, distributing applications, and yes even social media.
This is the Canadian government's attempt to weed out spam, malware, and other malicious content from our inboxes and beyond.
The first thing you should do to save yourself the headache of a huge CASL fine is brush up on possible CASL violations:
- Sending commercial electronic messages (or CEMs) without express or implied consent (by the way, this includes direct messaging on social networks).
- Installing computer programs on another person's computer system without their express consent (don't settle for implied consent, get express!)
- Using false or misleading electronic representations to promote a product, service or business (now you must clearly identify the sender and any third parties involved or else face a hefty fine).
- Collecting electronic addresses without authorization (unless they are displayed in a conspicuous manner and do not have a disclaimer against CEMs- commercial electronic messages).
- Collecting personal information by accessing a computer system in violation of an Act of Parliament.
Now that you know the basics of what you shouldn't do, you're a little more prepared to handle the upcoming changes. Another good defence for avoiding CASL fines is being aware of how the legislation will affect the messages your business sends everyday- including those on social networks.
Social Media & Contesting
Social media contesting is a very effective tactic to engage with new qualified leads, but if you want to continue to use social media and contesting after July 1st, you should take a look at some of the ways CASL will apply to social networks and specifically to social contesting:
- A like, comment, or follow does not count as implied consent to contact the user in the future (so don't start messaging anyone who likes you on Facebook, or they won't like you for long).
- Direct messages on social networks must abide by the 3 rules of CEM handed down by CASL: obtain recipient consent, clearly identify sender, and include an unsubscribe mechanism.
- LinkedIn is already CASL Compliant, so feel free to utilize your InMail, social selling and LinkedIn Premium resources if you have an upgraded account.
- Adding a disclaimer to your direct messages encouraging the recipient to respond with a request to unsubscribe does satisfy the mechanism requirement.
- You're going to want to implement a process for tracking the consenting contacts you gather from social networks- there is no longer a 10 day unsubscribe grace period like with CAN-SPAM.
- You can't obtain consent through social networks by direct messaging the contact and requesting it (but there are some exemptions, so know your CASL well!)
- Speaking of exemptions, when it comes to family members or personal relationships, CASL may not apply. What's the legal definition of a friend? The government's outlined it for you:
"A "personal relationship" requires that the real identity of the individual who alleges a personal relationship is known by the other individual involved in such a relationship (as opposed to instances where a virtual identity or an alias is used). Using social media or sharing the same network does not necessarily reveal a personal relationship between individuals. The mere use of buttons available on social media websites - such as clicking "like", voting for or against a link or post, accepting someone as a "Friend", or clicking "Follow" - will generally be insufficient to constitute a personal relationship."
- When executing your social contest, be sure to include your express consent opt-in check box which must be left blank for the contact to check themselves if they would like future CEMs from your business (and if you're planning on subscribing them to any of your- or other third party- promotional or marketing lists after they enter, there needs to be a separate check box and disclaimer for that too).
- If you haven't already, developing a set of best practices surrounding your social media communications (or really any communications that fall under CASL) would be a wise decision. Not only will it help you comply with CASL, but it'll have other positive impacts on your marketing efforts too- it's just the smart thing to do.
Canadians are also protected against malicious applications under Bill C-28. Sometimes apps are unknowingly downloaded, piggy-backed onto other applications, or perhaps you just thought you were getting the free version of your favourite game. Harmful malware can give cyber criminals access to your contacts, your photos, your calendar, or they could even remotely gain control of your mobile device.
The Government of Canada provides some solid basic tips for avoiding damaging downloads- we have to do our part too to help eliminate spam. Learning to recognize suspicious CEMs or apps is one of the best ways to ensure we can continue to use messaging like email with credibility and success.
To continue shedding some light on the grey areas of CASL, have a look through the rest of our free CASL Resource Centre.
While the above information was sourced from credible resources including the official fightspam.gc.ca government website, it should not be taken as binding legal advice- we advise you to seek professional legal council if you believe you have an issue.