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Failing to follow Canada’s relatively new anti-spam legislation may cost you.

In 2014 new anti-spam legislation came into effect. This law requires businesses to get explicit consent from users before sending them an email – implied consent is not enough. According to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), if a customer provides an email address when making a purchase, that does not entitle the business to send the user promotional emails. In such an example, the consent is not explicit enough.

The law also requires businesses to include a clear, easy to access ‘unsubscribe’ button in all emails. The CRTC warned businesses that they must “ensure [the unsubscribe buttons] are clearly and prominently set out and can be readily performed”.

Failing to meet these standards may cost your business – a lot. Plenty of Fish, a popular online dating site with over 100 million users was recently fined $48,000 for violations of the anti-spam law. The source of the violation? A sub-par unsubscribe mechanism. An even more severe fine was handed down to the Quebec based Compu-Finder – a $1.1 million fine for sending users emails without consent and without an unsubscribe mechanism.

Since the legislation came into force, the CRTC has received an overwhelming number of complaints for violations, and it admits the focus is on penalizing the most severe violations. That said, the CRTC has demonstrated its commitment to deterring violations by handing out heavy fines to offenders.

Businesses should review email subscription policies to ensure compliance and to avoid heavy fines. You can find out more about compliance with the anti-spam legislation on the CRTCs website at http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/casl-lcap.htm.

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