Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation: The Basics

Posted on: Friday, December 20th, 2013

Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation: The Basics

Most of the provisions of Canada’s new Anti-Spam legislation will come into force on July 1, 2014 & the sections that relate to computer programs & software will come into force on January 15, 2015.


Any person, business or organization that sends commercial electronic messages (such as email and text messages) (“CEM’s”) needs to be aware of CASL.

Technically, a single email sent to a person that has a commercial purpose falls under CASL




  • The recipient of the CEM must have given their consent to receive CEMs.
  • The consent MUST BE SPECIFIC about the type of CEMs that will be sent and CANNOT be buried in the terms and conditions or privacy policy.
  • Consent can be obtained verbally, but adequate records should be kept to demonstrate this.

Content of the Message

  • The CEM MUST CONTAIN the name of the sender and its contact information


  • The CEM must contain a no-cost mechanism that allows the recipient to unsubscribe from receiving future CEMs (must be implemented within 10 business days). EXCEPTIONS
  • The law allows for the following exemptions:
    • CEMs sent to CONFIRM a transaction that the recipient entered into with the sender;
    • CEMs responding to a request for a quote or estimate;
    • CEMs that solely provide warranty or product recall information, or other factual information about the use of a product or service; and
    • CEMs sent between people in a family or other personal relationship

Consent MAY also be IMPLIED where CEMs are sent to recipients with whom the sender has an “existing business relationship” or “existing non-business relationship”.


Existing Business Relationship – An existing business relationship is defined as a business relationship that involves or arises from the purchase, lease or bartering of product, goods or services, a contract, or inquiry of a recipient within two (2) years immediately preceding the date the CEM was sent.

Existing Non-Business Relationship – An existing non-business relationship is defined as a relationship arising from the recipient’s activities as a donor or volunteer for a registered charity, political party or political candidate, a member of a club, association or voluntary organization, within the two (2) years immediately preceding the date the CEM was sent. 

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