CASL Proof Your Business
As my colleague Ashley pointed out in her blog post on CASL, there are new obligations for businesses who conduct business online and send Electronic Commercial Messages to clients, suppliers, colleagues, contacts, and more. If you are currently operating a business in 1983 and enjoy the soothing sounds of your fax machine – you can stop reading now. For the rest of us who send email, newsletter and have a website – read on.
For a great rundown on CASL, check out Ashley’s previous blog to get up to speed. Now let’s pick up where she left off:
Obtain Consent From Existing Contacts
Now is the best time to get express consent from the contacts you already have. To obtain express consent you must:
Clearly describe the purposes for requesting consent
Provide the name of the person seeking consent and identify on whose behalf consent is sought
Provide contact information (mailing address and either a phone number or an email address) of those parties seeking consent
Their consent must be:
“Sought separately” for each act contemplated under CASL
Opt-In – they must actively consent to receiving messages
Distinct / cannot be bundled with terms and conditions of use or sale or other types of consent
Going forward, when meeting new potential clients and contacts, make sure to obtain consent from them before you send an email. This can be in writing, online [they send you an email authorizing your contact], or verbally.
In every CEM going forward you must include the following:
The name of the person sending the message, and identify on whose behalf the message is sent, if different;
Contact information (mailing addressing and either a phone number or an email address) of the senders; and
An unsubscribe option
Requests for consent must contain
Purpose of consent
Clearly identify the sender and any party it is sent on behalf of.
Sender’s contact information (name, company, mailing address, phone number and e-mail).
Clearly inform the recipient of the right to unsubscribe from receiving future messages.
- document it forever
As mentioned above, there are several different ways to obtain consent from your new contacts:
Written – If you see them in person, you have have them give you written consent, or have them write permission on the back of their business card.
Email – if you advertise your contact information in public to have potential customers contact you, then they are permitted to initiate online contact with you, and this initial email acts as their consent to correspond with you regarding the business matter.
Online – Newsletter software like MailChimp take care of the opt in process for you. When someone signs up for your newsletter on the website, the software will confirm their consent with an email and keep track of who subscribes and unsubscribes from your mailing list.
Verbal – this is the trickiest form of consent because you must have a recording of the verbal consent to prove it happened. If you are a business that does a lot of business development on the phone , it may be worthwhile to start recording those calls. If a potential customer calls you, ask them to send you an email to act as initial consent, to which you can reply with additional information on your products or services.
Whatever method you use – remember one thing. You MUST always have a record of consent on file for each contact forever. If you or your business ever find yourself in a bit of CASL-related trouble, the onus is on you to prove you obtained consent, and there is no time limit or statute of limitations for complains under this legislation.
Always include an unsubscribe option:
While we are all very familiar with newsletter containing an unsubscribe option, you may start to see it on any type of correspondence that lands in your inbox.
Yes, this means that every email you send from now on out must contain the option to unsubscribe. Your CEMs unsubscription option must:
allow recipient to advise sender to stop sending electronic messages.
be clearly and prominently set out in message.
set out an electronic unsubscribe process or address, or link to an “unsubscribe” page.
be effective for 60 days
be given effect within 10 days following receipt
be at no cost to recipient.
Your unsubscribe mechanism can range from a complex technological solution – this may be an option if you use a CRM software that provides the appropriate features – or simply stating that if they reply to your email with the word “unsubscribe” your emails will cease.
Don’t Take Our Word For It
Our lawyer has informed us that we are not, in fact, lawyers. While this is a great jumping off point, we encourage you to do your research, talk to your lawyer, and educate yourself on how CASL will affect how you do business.