Canada has joined the U.S. in implementing a law to fight spam - but the Canadian version is stronger.  Many organizations have opted to implement a renewal of 100% opt-in - that is, they are asking people on their emailing list to go through a fresh opt-in or consent.  It's a subject that can be made complicated and made into a long (and potentially expensive) seminar- but it's really not that difficult.  Here it is in summary form:

Facts

  1. The Federal Government has passed a law that will require tighter procedures for mailing lists.  The intent is to reduce spam - unwanted emails.  The law goes into effect July 1, 2014.
  2. The main requirement and the one that has got everybody excited is that mailing list recipients must have all opted-in.  No negative opt-out is allowed.  No sending to people who did not give permission.
  3. The level of permission is not 100% clear.  Certainly actively requesting or consenting to receiving emails is OK. There is a three year transition period from July 1 2014 when implied consent is good enough.  Implied means that there has been a business relationship in the previous two years.  Not 100% clear is whether it's OK to send people emails who asked but where there is no supporting documentation. 
  4. There are other requirements: On every email, it must be clear who is sending the email and contact info must be included.  An opt-out link must be included.  Mail Chimp and other similar mailing services include these requirements since it's part of the similar U.S. law that has been in effect for several years.
  5. The requirements apply to all "Commercial Electronic Messages" - the only exceptions would be non-profits or political party soliciting donations.

Enforcement

It is generally up to the CRTC to enforce – presumably based on complaints.  However, individuals can sue offenders in court to get damages. The CRTC will focus on the "severe" cases although others will not be ignored (they say).  Ms Manon Bombardier, the CRTC's chief enforcment officer told National Post that they do not intend to "punish" and that minor cases might receive warning letters first rather than a fine to 'bring them back to compliance". 

Opinion

  1. I can't see the CRTC prosecuting small groups who have not had any complaints and generally follow the rules.
  2.  If there was action against anyone, they would first simply tell the offender to comply - we don't live in North Korea.

Advice

Use Mail Chimp with their sign-up form and keep a copy of any email that asks to be on the mailing list.

Official details

If you want to get serious about it, here is a link to the Government explanation (FAQs):  Govt of Canada Fight Spam Legislation.

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