The Rules of Spam in Canada
What is CASL?
Everyone has had to deal with spam in their email inbox – unsolicited, unwanted email messages that seem to clog up your inbox on a daily basis. Some emails that make it into your inbox actually are legitimate emails that have been sent by well-intended businesses, but far too often the king of some country needs to send you money for some reason. These are the problem emails that the CASL was designed to protect consumers and businesses from receiving. CASL or Canada’s anti-spam legislation was put in place in 2014 to strengthen best practices for email marketing and to tackle the growing concern of digital information misuse and abuse.
The legislation not only covers phishing emails but also identity theft and software viruses. Phishing emails, for those who don’t know the term, is a type of attack that is often employed to steal personal user information. The attackers are usually after login credentials and credit card numbers. This usually happens when the attacker pretends to be a trusted or reliable source by tricking the user to opening an email that has less than honorable intentions.
The implementation of CASL was seen as a positive step forward in combating spam. Prior to 2014, Canada had 7 of the top 100 spamming organizations. Three years later in 2017, there were only 2. To illustrate how big a problem spam is, the Spam Reporting Centre in Canada receives approximately 5,000 complaints per week. The largest reason for the complaints is that users have received emails without their consent. However, spammy text messages have been on the rise at an alarming rate since 2018. One study showed that the year following the introduction of the CASL legislation, spam-related email dropped by 37% in Canada.
How is the Canada spam legislation defined?
- unauthorized alteration of transmission data
- the installation of computer programs without consent
- false or misleading electronic representations (including websites)
- the harvesting of addresses (collecting and/or using email or other electronic addresses without permission)
- the collection of personal information by accessing a computer system or electronic device illegally
(quoted from the CASL website)
Perhaps an unexpected benefit that arose as a result of the spam legislation was in changing marketers how are sending marketing emails. Click-through rates have increased and bounce rates have dropped. These effects can be attributed to the fact that targeted users of marketing emails have been required to opt-in to any emails they receive from businesses. Users are more likely to open emails from brands that they know they have signed up to hear from.
How do I report spam?
How to deal with spam in email program apps
If you are using Gmail or G Suite, Google does a really good job of protecting us from spammy email. There is a button to easily mark emails that you feel are spammy. However, even before you see potential spammy emails, Google will filter out any emails that are suspected as being suspicious and relocate them to the spam folder. Microsoft Outlook offers a similar approach to protecting your inbox. You can also report spam emails, text messages, or other digital messages to the proper authorities at the Canadian Spam Centre.
As an email marketer, what do I have to do to make my email campaigns compliant with CASL?
All email marketing platforms have systems in place to make sure that the company sending out the emails are legitimate and comply with their local spam legislation. Before sending out an email campaign, you need to add your business mailing address, and there must be an unsubscribe link somewhere in the email, so users have the option to remove themselves from your email list. In addition to the mailing address, most platforms require you to verify your website and email address to ensure you are legitimate. Within ActiveCampaign, for example, during the campaign setup process, the system does a review of the contents of the campaign and determines if the campaign is spammy or not.
Unfortunately, spammy emails and spammy text messages aren’t going away anytime soon, but knowing that there are options that users can take to report and help slow down these types of unethical practices can only be a good thing. The less spam in users’ inboxes, the better the chances that your legitimate marketing emails have in reaching their targeted audience.
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