In the next year, Canada is expected to enact new legislation restricting the use of consumer data for marketing purposes. But most US marketers are unaware of the new law and the potential fines associated with noncompliance, according to a survey from international business law firm Fasken Martineau.

Bill C-28, Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation (or "CASL", formerly known as the Electronic Commerce Protection Act and the Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam Act) was finalized on December 15, 2010 and is expected to become law by early 2013.

Among US marketers surveyed, 57.6% said they were unaware of the new act. Moreover, 68.5% of those surveyed—including 23.6% of those aware of the new law—did not know they could be fined for sending unsolicited email to Canada:

Fasken Martineau ascribed such lack of awareness to a lack of mainstream media coverage about the law.

The legislation, which requires an opt-in policy rather than an opt-out policy, affects US (and other) marketers who send commercial emails to, via, or from Canada. Failing to gain permission from recipients before sending email may result in millions of dollars in damages and may bring class action lawsuits, according to the law firm.

Below, additional findings from Fasken Martineau's Canadian Anti-Spam Act Survey.

CASL legislation is not the same as 'Do Not Call' legislation in the US

Nearly 70% of marketers say they are now compliant with Do Not Call legislation in the US. However, only 27% of marketers were aware that compliance with Do Not Call legislation is not equivalent to compliance with the Canadian Anti-Spam Act.

Moreover, 58.7% were not aware their company could be subject to class-action lawsuits if they do not comply with the new law.

The new regulations are likely to impact business planning

Among marketers who were aware of the Canadian Anti-Spam Act, three-quarters (75%) said the new act would affect communications with clients and prospects. Among those marketers: 

  • 17% say they plan to stop sending e-newsletters.
  • 17% expect to rely more on social media channels as a result of the new legislation.
  • Among marketers who purchase email lists, 89% said the act would impact how they purchase email lists and 94% would insist their list vendors become compliant.
  • Among those with knowledge of their company's long-term risk management strategy, 88% would factor in the Canadian Anti-Spam Act.

About the data: Findings are from a survey of 92 marketers from a wide range of industries and company sizes, conducted by Fasken Martineau in December 2011. Some 82% of respondents were located in the US, 12% in Canada, and 6% did not identify a location.

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