Storming the CASL

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Today we need to bring your attention to an important change in Canadian Law that affects how REW customers can lawfully correspond with Canadian clients. It is important to note that this affects businesses located in all countries, not just Canada. If you are sending commercial messages to recipients located in Canada you will need to be aware of this new CASL legislation that will be taking effect as of July 1, 2014.

What is CASL?

From the Canadian Chamber of Commerce:

Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) establishes rules for the sending of commercial electronic messages (CEMs) and the installation of computer programs. CASL also prohibits the unauthorized alteration of transmission data. The rules that apply to CEMs come into force on July 1, 2014 while the rules governing computer programs take effect Jan. 15, 2015, followed by the private right of action on July 1, 2017.

This post will only cover elements that are relevant to the sending of email messages by REW clients which will be covered by CASL effective July 1, 2014. For a complete breakdown of everything covered by CASL the Canadian Chamber of Commerce has an excellent set of resources, and the full text of the law is available for review.

Who and what is covered by CASL?

  • CASL applies to everyone—individuals, incorporated and unincorporated businesses, not-for-profit organizations, etc.—who sends electronic messages for commercial purposes to recipients located in Canada.
  • Under CASL, electronic messages can include emails, SMS text messages, instant messages and messages sent through social networks.
  • CASL defines a CEM as a message that encourages participation in a commercial activity. This includes advertisements and information about promotions, offers, business opportunities, events, etc.

CASL Requirements

1. Clear Identification

All CEMs, including a request for consent, must include clear identification of the sending party. This is defined as:

  1. The name of the person and/or business sending the message, and on whose behalf the message is being sent if that is different from the sender.
  2. Provide contact information for either of those persons. This is defined as a mailing address, as well as an email address and/or telephone number.

Much of this should be covered in the existing branding for your site, but you will need to ensure that all agents on your site have this information in their signatures, and that signatures are attached to all mailings from your site.

2. Express Consent

The concept of ‘Express Consent’ as opposed to ‘Implied Consent’ is a key difference between CASL and existing legislation such as the American CAN-Spam act. There are three facets to acquiring ‘Express Consent’ from a recipient under CASL:

  1. No pre-checked ‘opt-in’ checkboxes are permitted.
  2. A ‘Request for Consent’ is required.
  3. The request for consent must clearly state the purposes for which consent is sought, as well as clearly identify the party requesting consent. This must either be present immediately next to the opt-in checkbox, or be part of a double opt-in confirmation message.

    For example:

    "We would like to send you notifications for new properties matching your saved search criteria, as well as communications from our agents to address any questions or concerns you may have.

    John Smith Realty, 123 River St., Vancouver, BC, A1A 1A1. john@mywebsite.com"

CASL provides that any express consent obtained before July 1, 2014 will be compliant, even if the request does not meet all of the post-July 1 content requirements. This means that if you currently have double opt-in enabled your pre-existing leads will not be affected by CASL.

3. Unsubscribe Mechanism

All CEMs must provide some form of mechanism by which the recipient can unsubscribe. Messages generated by REW software will include unsubscribe links by default, but be aware that this also applies to messages manually sent by your agents to leads with whom they have not yet formed a business relationship.

What is exempt from these rules?

  • The sender and recipient have an existing business relationship.
    eg: the recipient has made a purchase within the past two years, or an inquiry within the past two months.
  • The sender and recipient have an existing non-business relationship.
  • The recipient has disclosed their electronic address directly to the sender, has not expressly stated that they do not wish to receive unsolicited messages, and the message is related to the recipient's business or official capacity.

Checklist for REW Clients

  1. Are your subscription checkboxes pre-checked?
    The answer is yes. Until now this has been the default for all REW sites. There will be a small amount of custom work required to change this, as well as to place the required "Clear Identification" information into the appropriate places. Please contact our sales department for more information.
  2. Do all of your agents have signatures that include a full business address, as well as a phone number or email address?
  3. Do all of your templates include a {signature} tag?
    If not, you’ll either need to add one to your templates, or in the settings for each of your agents set Add Signature to Emails to Yes.

References

Update: CASL Patch for v4.3

We are currently rolling out a patch to all v4.3 sites with the following changes for CASL:

  • Added opt-in checkbox to contact forms, defaults to 'unchecked'.
  • Opt-in checkbox state on all forms is now controllable via backend.
  • Verbiage next to opt-in checkbox is now controllable via backend. There is generalized default text, but you may wish to customize this.
  • New {verify} tag in emails that will generate a verification URL if you wish to run on double opt-in and email your unverified leads.

An email will be sent to your admin account's email address when this has been completed.

 

Last Updated June 27, 2014 at 16:00 PDT

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