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Penalties under Canada's antispam laws kick in on July 1, 2017

The Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL) went into effect on 1 July 2014. This law applies to any organization that sends commercial electronic messages to recipients based in Canada. If you use Wild Apricot to send commercial or promotional emails to Canadian residents, then you need to comply with CASL.

Penalties for non-compliance come into force on July 1, 2017. The maximum penalty for violations is $1 million for individuals and $10 million for businesses. 

What are CASL’s requirements?

The law specifies 3 requirements for sending a commercial electronic message to an electronic address. You need:

  • consent
  • identification information, and
  • an unsubscribe mechanism.

Types of consent

Before sending a commercial electronic message to a Canadian resident, you must obtain consent. You should also be able to prove how and when that consent was given should the need arise.There are two kinds of consent: express and implied.

Implied consent

  • If you are a club, association or voluntary organization and the recipient is one of your members, you have implied consent, as long as the individual remains a member
  • If someone submits an application, registers for an event, donates or subscribes to receive emails through your site then consent to receive emails from you is implied.
  • However, this implied consent is valid for 24 months from the transaction date, after which you will need to obtain express consent.

Express consent

  • Obtaining express consent requires a user to take a pro-active step to consent to receiving emails from you. It is our understanding that simply agreeing to your “terms of use” for example is not enough – they need to actually agree to receive emails from you.
  • Your request for consent must clearly include:
    • Concise description of your purpose in obtaining consent
    • Description of messages you plan to send
    • Your name and contact information (physical mailing address and either phone, email or website URL)
    • A statement indicating they are free to unsubscribe at any time.

Obtaining express consent in Wild Apricot

To help you obtain express consent to send emails to your Canadian contacts, Wild Apricot is adding an opt-in mechanism as part of the 5.11 release, currently scheduled for mid-May 2017. If you enable the opt-in mechanism, you can send consent request emails to your contacts, then track their opt-in status from each contact’s Email settings and log tab.

After the next update following the 5.11 release, enabling this option will also add a consent checkbox to all forms on which a new contact is asked for their email address.

Identifying the sender

A commercial email message must identify the person who sent it or, if sent by a third party, the person on whose behalf it was sent. The message must also include contact information for the sender. So you don't forget each time you send a mass email, you should add your contact information to your email template(s).

Providing an unsubscribe mechanism

The message must provide an easy method for the recipient to opt-out (unsubscribe) from receiving future emails. For manual email blasts, Wild Apricot automatically includes an {Unsubscribe_Url} macro in your email, if you haven’t already entered one yourself. Unsubscribed contacts are automatically removed from the recipient list when sending email blasts.

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