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The Complete Guide to Email Disclaimer Laws in Canada

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Canadian email disclaimer law.

Canada's Anti-Spam Law

Canada's Anti-Spam Law (CASL) came into effect on July 1, 2014. It requires businesses to obtain either express “opt-in” or implied consent to send commercial electronic messages (CEMs) to any recipient. This can be anything from email to SMS and social media messages. As a result, this legislation is far broader than others such as CAN-SPAM which are just targeted at emails.

In addition, all electronic marketing messages need to:

  • Clearly identify the sender
  • Include the sender’s contact information
  • Provide an unsubscribe mechanism unless fully exempted from the Act (usually through an email disclaimer)

Why is this important?

Canada's Anti-Spam Law is designed with consumers in mind, giving them complete control over their email messages. It allows anyone to stop any email marketing communications they have not explicitly opted in to receiving.

Organizations must amend their electronic marketing databases and update their customer relationship management (CRM) databases to comply with CASL’s stricter model.

Implied consent only applies under very limited circumstances such as:

  • Information or a quote specifically requested by a customer
  • Part of an existing commercial transaction i.e. warranties, safety information or other factual information about memberships, loans, accounts, etc.
  • Employment information or benefit plans

What happens if an organization ignores CASL?

Three Canadian government agencies are responsible for this law. If you breach its regulations, you can receive a fine of up to $10 million and face criminal charges. These fines are imposed per violation daily.

What steps should be taken to comply with CASL?

Some recommended steps to take are:

  • Reviewing current databases and ascertain how you got your current contacts
  • Finding out if email lists use implied or express consent
  • Creating or update forms to clearly document when someone has given express permission
  • Discovering how and why you send commercial electronic messages (CEMs)
  • Recording all consents and refusals to receive CEMs
  • Making sure your whole organization is aware of the implications of not following this
  • Archiving all CEMS sent to prove that they are CASL-compliant
  • Providing an easy to find unsubscribe mechanism via an email disclaimer

The need for an email disclaimer

CASL mandates that ALL companies obtain some level of consent before sending email messages to any recipient. However, the larger your organization is, the harder it is to enforce a CASL email policy for all messages. This is why there is a need for an email disclaimer to appear on all corporate messages.

The sender must provide the following in all emails:

  • Their name
  • Company name
  • Mailing address
  • Phone number
  • Online address like an email or website
  • An unsubscribe mechanism built in the email disclaimer (requests must be actioned within 10 days)

The unsubscribe link needs to be included with a compliant email disclaimer. This is so the recipient can let you know if they no longer wish to hear from you. The best way to do this is via centralized email signature management. By using a third-party solution, companies can ensure a compliant email disclaimer is included on all corporate mails.

Here are some Canadian email disclaimer examples you can use in your company:

  • You have received this email because you have subscribed to receive marketing communications from [YOUR COMPANY]. If you no longer with to hear from us, you can unsubscribe from our mailing list by clicking here. Alternatively, reply to this message with Unsubscribe in the subject line.
  • You have received this message as your email address is on our subscribers list. If you are no longer interested in receiving emails from us, click here to unsubscribe.
  • Thank you for subscribing to receive email communications from [your company]. However, if you decide that you no longer want to receive emails from us, click here to unsubscribe.

Further information

Canadian Privacy Act

Applicable to anyone storing personal data, the Canadian Privacy Act was established to protect personal information collected by the Canadian government. It gives individuals the right to access information about themselves. It also governs how private sector organizations collect, use, and disclose personal details in the course of commercial business.

An email disclaimer helps ensure that recipients are clear how their personal data is collected and to decrease liability in case of private information being made public.

Further information

PIPEDA (Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act)

The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act is a Canadian law designed to ensure that personal information collected by businesses is kept securely. It also ensures that this data will only ever be collected, used, and given out under a strict set of circumstances. An email disclaimer simply helps highlight that your organization conforms to the highest standards of data privacy and security.

In addition, the Act contains various provisions to facilitate the use of electronic documents. PIPEDA incorporates and makes mandatory provisions of the Canadian Standards Association's Model Code for the Protection of Personal Information, developed in 1995.

Further information

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