Significant Changes to CASL Expected

The Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development has recently released the government's response to the Parliamentary Committee Report regarding Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL). Consistent with many of the INDU committee and CMA’s suggestions, the Report calls for significant changes to the law, describing current regulations as vague, overly broad and uncertain as to their effectiveness. The response underlines that "a healthy electronic marketplace is key to a growing, competitive, knowledge-based Canadian economy, which in turn helps our businesses grow, innovate, export, and create quality jobs and wealth for Canadians".


Quick Overview of the Law

CASL is intended to prohibit commercial conduct that would impair the reliability and optimal use of electronic means of carrying out commercial activities. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the Competition Bureau and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) share the duty of enforcing the Act. The law came into force on July 1, 2014. The Private Right of Action (PRA) provision of the Act was scheduled to come into force on July 1, 2017, but was suspended indefinitely.


Potential Changes of Interest to Business and Marketers

  • Consideration should be given to adopting a shorter title for the Act, although benefits vs. costs need to be assessed;
  • Clarify provisions pertaining to ‘implied consent’ and ‘express consent’;
  • Clarify definition of ‘electronic address’;
  • Clarify whether business-to business electronic messages fall under the definition of ‘commercial electronic message’;
  • Revise section 6(6) to clarify whether transactional communications and service messages listed are CEMs;
  • Government will work with CRTC to examine how it can be more transparent in the methods, investigations, and determinations of penalties;
  • Further investigate the impact of implementing the private right of action, once changes and clarifications have been implemented to the Act and its regulations.

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