What is CASL?: Anti-spam Legislation and Its Relevance to Small Business Owners

2000px-No-spam.svg wikimedia commonsWhile we were busy changing diapers and dreaming up exciting plans for starting a business, legislators were drafting up ways to reduce the impact of spam arriving in our email in-boxes, cell phones, and facebook instant message platforms.  Now that our business ideas are coming into fruition, and are therefore on the other side of the spam equation (the potential creators of unwanted communication) it’s important to understand legislation in the country your business calls home.

Three worthwhile questions:

  1. Are you aware of CASL (Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation) or the equivalent legislation in your country?
  2. Do you know your obligations?
  3. And are you meeting your obligations?

If you haven’t answered yes to all three, here’s the scoop.

Legislation in Canada came into effect in January 2014 that sets out clear guidelines for electronic communication by businesses.  In short, there are four criteria must be met when sending messages electronically (on social media, through SMS, by email, or by text, for example).  The criteria are as follows.

  1. You must have the person’s consent;
  2. You must include your mailing address;
  3. You must have an unsubscribe option; and
  4. You must be truthful.

To find out more, there is a quick fact-oriented explanation of CASL (Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation), most recently updated in July, 2017 on the Government of Canada’s “Fight Spam” webpage at http://fightspam.gc.ca/eic/site/030.nsf/eng/home

In terms of personal privacy, point number two can be a bit of an issue unless home-based business owners use a P.O. Box or other alternative as their mailing address.  Particularly with highly sensitive areas of practice, but certainly for anyone working in a home-based practice, privacy of the service provider is an issue.  If the mailing address for your practice or business is your residence, it may be worthwhile to explore options that allow you to meet CASL legislation and maintain your privacy.

SMS email programs like MailChimp automatically populate mailings with an unsubscribe button and your mailing address (2 of the 4 criteria that CASL outlines). While this helps a business comply with CASL, personal privacy may be compromised for those who practice out of their home.

What are YOUR strategies for compliance while still maintaining personal privacy in your home-based business?


A brief summary of these criteria is provided on the business page of Nurture Squared.

Updated November 14 2018

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