Saskatoon business critical of new anti-spam legislation

If you plan to send commercial, electronic messages to your customers, you need to obtain consent from customers, provide identification information, and provide an unsubscribe mechanism.

Theo Kivol at Unreal City Comics and Books will hinder relationships with customers

On Monday, July 1, new federal anti-spam legislation comes into force in Canada.

Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) states it is aimed at protecting consumers from unwanted, digital messages from companies such as persistent promotional emails.

The legislation requires business owners to have proof of consent before sending any commercial electronic messages by ensuring they have:

  • obtained expressed consent from customers
  • provided identification information 
  • provided an unsubscribe mechanism for customers

Federal Industry Minister James Moore said the legislation is the product of direct consultations the government has completed with consumers.

"Canadians should not receive emails that they do not want or did not ask to receive," Moore said in a news release. "Protecting consumers online is a priority."

"That is why we are taking action to eliminate malicious online threats against Canadians. Canada's anti-spam law will put the interests of consumers first while ensuring that Canadian businesses can continue to thrive in the online marketplace."

Small business owners critical

Theo Kivol is a small business owner in Saskatoon. (Madeline Kotzer/CBC News)

Some small business owners, including Unreal City Comics and Books owner Theo Kivol, are convinced the legislation may hurt their bottom line.

"The small business guy who, you know, is hustling away, trying to deal with this new world of social media and battling online shopping and all that stuff, this is one thing that is going to hinder more than help that guy," Kivol said.

Kivol told CBC News the process of obtaining expressed consent alone will hinder the relationships he has built with customers.

"If somebody misses seeing that email from me, I guess I end up losing in the long-run because somebody who really already gave me their consent is no longer on my list," Kivol said.

On Monday, June 30, the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB) sent a letter to Moore regarding the reaction of small businesses to the new CASL

It asked the government to spend more time educating small businesses about the law before bringing in enforcement measures. It also asked to slow the process down and to exempt businesses that send less than a certain threshold of emails per year or month, among other requests.

Business owners who have established relationships with customers have three years to obtain consent to contact them about commercial opportunities.

A federal compliance department will investigate complaints that are reported.
Fines for breaking the anti-spam laws cap at a $10 million fine, per infraction, for a business and a $1 million fine, per infraction, for an individual.

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