How to avoid spamming your yoga instructor

As you are likely aware, on July 1st, 2014 Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL) comes into force. The law extends far beyond the real estate industry and will impact every business in Canada that uses email or other forms of electronic messaging to conduct marketing. That means your phone company, your bank, even your zen-yet-remarkably-tech-savvy yoga instructor, will all need to be mindful of the new law.

Given its scope, it is not surprising that a lot of ink has been spilled in articles describing the perils of CASL. Such articles can almost make you want to throw your hands up and give up on this newfangled Internet thing. Almost. From a REALTOR® member perspective, there are things that you can do to adjust to the new reality.

First, read CREA’s Guidance on how to comply with CASL.  The guidance explains what messages are caught by the law, what messages are exempt, and what messages fall into the middle, meaning you don’t need to ask for permission to send the message but you do need to include certain basic contact information and an unsubscribe mechanism.  Want to read more? Check out the Government’s Anti-Spam resources at fightspam.gc.ca and crtc.gc.ca/eng/casl-lcap.htm.

Second, take stock of the types of messages you send. For example, try and categorize your emails to determine where you may be at risk and what the potential solutions are:

  • Low risk: email responses to inquiries you receive about your services.
  • High Risk: emails sent to people on that random email list you just purchased.
  • Low Risk: emails that discuss only personal matters.
  • High risk: unsolicited emails to that zen-yet-remarkably-tech-savvy yoga instructor promoting your listings.

Be systematic.

Third, automate where possible. There are many products and services that enable automated email list management and unsubscribe mechanisms. For example, some email service providers include tools that will automatically remove recipients from your email lists when they unsubscribe. Talk to your tech folks and see what ideas they have.  Why reinvent the wheel?

Fourth, take advantage of the three year transition period under the law, which allows you to send many types of emails without prior express consent from the recipient until July 1, 2017. It’s not entirely open season, but you may find this transition period covers the majority of your emails.

Finally, don’t panic. Yes, the maximum administrative monetary penalties that may be imposed under the law can get quite high ($1,000,000 per violation in the case of an individual). However, CASL also sets out various factors that must be considered in determining the amount of the penalty, such as, whether a person has previously violated the Act and the nature and scope of the violation. Even more significantly, the law does not require perfection as it contains a due diligence defence.

CASL is here and should be taken seriously, but managing your obligations is possible. Take a breath, roll up your sleeves, and in no time at all you’ll be emailing your zen-yet-remarkably-tech-savvy yoga instructor worry-free. Namaste.

The article above is for information purposes and is not legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel.

Simon Parham, Legal Counsel, is always on hand to provide helpful advice to CREA, Boards, and Associations on all aspects of federal legislation that can be reduced to an acronym, including: PIPEDA; FINTRAC; and the DNCL. In his spare time, Simon enjoys running, camping, discovering the world with his daughter, and planning his “big year.”


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