Friday, June 27, 2014

A Canadian CASL


On July 1st the Canadian Anti Spam Legislation act (CASL) will come into full effect and you are probably not aware it even exists. 
How appropriate that the world's toughest legislation against unsolicited email would come into force on Canada Day.

If you are not aware of the CASL project, here is a little light reading for you.
 - The gov.ca website dedicated to CASL: http://fightspam.gc.ca/eic/site/030.nsf/eng/home
 - The specific regulations governing CASL: http://fightspam.gc.ca/eic/site/030.nsf/eng/00273.html
 - The actual full text of the law: http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/E-1.6/index.html
 - A great report from Deloitte on the impact of CASL: http://www.deloitte.com/...

There is a great deal more to tell, but first you may be asking why you might care.  Well, you know those annoying SPAM messages you keep getting in your email, even though you have clicked "unsubscribe" 20 times?  Now you can take strong legal action against any one of the people or companies that send those to you.  This is real and the Canadian government is very serious about protecting Canadian mail boxes.

Even better, this does not just affect people *IN* Canada, it applies to all Canadian citizens regardless of where their email inbox lives.  That means that if you live in Toronto and you use a Hotmail inbox in Seattle, you are still protected.  If you live in Vancouver and your mailbox is in Florida, this law still applies to you.

This is the scariest thing to happen to spammers in 40+ years of email history.  It may also be the most progressive thing to happen to netizen rights in the history of the Internet.  You may have noticed that in the last week or so, many of the mailing lists you subscribe to have been sending you a small reminder to confirm your request for their mail.  Any responsible sender who knows you are Canadian, has been reaching out to make sure you are ok with their newsletters and marketing messages.  No one wants to get caught on the wrong end of this big stick.

This is great news for Canadian citizens.  This is the first time in history that Canadian citizens have the power to directly and financially impact an offending SPAM sender in an impactful way.  If you skipped over that link above to the CASL website, you may want to go back and take a look as there are good resources for individuals to help identify spam as well as how to enforce the act.

The history behind CASL goes back several years and really owes some lineage to the CANSPAM project [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CAN-SPAM_Act_of_2003 ] enacted in the US in 2003. While the rules have good intention, and all responsible senders do their best to follow them, active spam senders are aware of how difficult it is to actually enforce them and penalize the offenders.  By the time CANSPAM was put into place, it had become a list of standards of good practice as opposed to an enforceable law. The good news is that the responsible senders who follow CANSPAM make it very easy to join and remove yourself from a mailing list.  CANSPAM was the first kick at controlling SPAM and has been effective with legitimate senders, but has been relatively "toothless" on actual illegal senders.  Relatively few (less than 20?)  known "spammers" have be affected by any real penalties or jail time.

CASL is an actual law that is enforceable, and that should have known spammers thinking twice about sending Canadians any unsolicited mail.  The people and companies named on the Registry Of Known Spam Operations list (ROKSO) should be especially worried.  CASL has real penalties that hurt where it counts. 
"The maximum amount of [cash penalty], per violation, for an individual is $1 million, and for a business, it is $10 million."
CASL FAQ 

This means that if a spammer refuses to take you off their list 5 times, they can be fined up to $50 Million CAD.  Don't be that guy.

Time will tell if CASL has more threatening teeth than CANSPAM.  It will be interesting to watch this play out.


Oh.. Happy Canada Day :)