If you're a marketer for a North American company, chances are high that you send commercial email to consumer or business recipients in Canada. You may be aware, then, that new commercial email regulations are being introduced as law in Canada.

Called the Canadian Anti-Spam Law, the legislation is designed to deter spammers from targeting Canadian consumers and to provide Canadian law enforcement officials with more effective methods for combating malicious senders.

At the core of the new legislation is what Canada defines as "commercial electronic message," or CEM. So what constitutes a CEM? According to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, a CEM includes any electronic message that encourages participation in a commercial activity, including, but not limited to, offering, advertising, or promoting a product, a service, or a person. The law applies to all businesses or persons sending CEMs, regardless of whether there is expectation of profit.

Regulated messages include common message formats such as email, SMS (text) messages, and instant messages (IMs). Additional regulated message formats or delivery vehicles may include Web applications, websites, blogs, voice over IP, and URLs.

In this article, we'll examine how this new legislation affects commercial messages sent via the email channel.

New Email Sender Regulations

At the highest level, the law requires email senders to be in compliance with four new requirements:

  1. Consent: You must have express or implied consent to send a CEM.
  2. Identification: You must clearly identify yourself and the business or organization sending the CEM.
  3. Unsubscribe mechanism: You must include an unsubscribe mechanism on every CEM sent.
  4. Contact information: You must provide a way for the recipient to contact you: A physical address and electronic address are required in all your CEM communications

The Complexity of Consent

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Ryan Harris is manager of compliance for email delivery and transactional email service SendGrid, where he is responsible for overseeing the compliance department and ensuring that senders are upholding white-hat email practices.

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