Over the last few months, you may have seen emails from large commercial entities, be it accounting firms, magazine subscription, or others, asking you to confirm that you wish to continue receiving their emails. Those businesses are gearing up to ensure that their current electronic communication practice complies with the new "Anti-Spam" law coming into force on July 1, 2014.
A simple one-liner description of the Anti-Spam law is that it will regulate the use, content, and transmission of "commercial electronic messages", but that would be over-simplifying it. The Anti-Spam law does far more than that, and is expected to have far-reaching consequences for any commercial entity using electronic means to deliver messages. It should also be noted that the Anti-Spam law does not just target "spams".
For many small to medium-sized businesses who may be baffled by the Anti-Spam law, a good place to start the research is the Government of Canada's fightspam.gc.ca website. Given the extensive nature of the Anti-Spam law, the amount of material you will find there is substantial. We have taken the following answers to some key questions from the website:
Who needs to know about the law?
Anyone who makes use of commercial electronic messages, is involved with the alteration of transmission data, or produces or installs computer programs needs to be aware of this law.
Does Canada's anti-spam law deal only with spam?
No. It also deals with other electronic threats to commerce, such as the installation of computer programs and the alteration of transmission data, without express consent. These threats also include the installation of malware, such as computer viruses.
What is a commercial electronic message?
A key question to ask yourself is the following: Is the message I am sending a CEM? Is one of the purposes to encourage the recipient to participate in commercial activity?
When determining whether a purpose is to encourage participation in commercial activity, some parts of the message to look at are:
the content of the message
any hyperlinks in the message to website content or a database, and
contact information in the message.
These parts of the message are not determinative. For example, the simple inclusion of a logo, a hyperlink or contact information in an email signature does not necessarily make an email a CEM. Conversly, a tagline in a message that promotes a product or service that encourages the recipient to purchase that product or service would make the message a CEM.
Some examples of CEMs include:
offers to purchase, sell, barter or lease a product, goods, a service, land or an interest or right in land;
offers to provide a business, investment or gaming opportunity;
promoting a person, including the public image of a person, as being a person who does anything referred to above, or who intends to do so.
For more information, please see the fightspam.gc.ca website.
Logos Law Office is a business law firm in Burnaby, BC.