Wineries: What you need to know about complying with Canada’s new anti-SPAM laws, effective July 1, 2014  

The recently announced Canada Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) – widely considered to be the toughest anti-SPAM legislation in the world – is regulation for which all wineries must prepare. Starting July 1st, 2014, the CASL (also known as Bill C-28) demands that all companies and organizations require consent from new, existing and potential customers in order to send them electronic messages.

What does this mean for wineries?

This means wineries now need proven, opt-in consent from wine club members, followers and fans to send such electronic messages as email or text messages. Now is the time to adapt your emailing practices to ensure compliance!

What are the risks of non-compliance?

This is serious stuff: starting July 1st, 2014, businesses will be subject to extreme penalties for failing to comply with this legislation. Violators could potentially face $1 million fines for individual offenders, and $10 million for organizations. CASL will also enable private individuals to take legal action against spammers, with potential remedies amounting to $1 million per day for violating CASL. ($200 per email that breaks CASL regulations)

It’s fair to say that CASL will have major implications for people and business that depends on using electronic communications!  Businesses must change and adapt their practices to ensure consent is obtained before sending email messages.

CASL will be enforced by three Canadian government agencies: the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, and the Competition Bureau. In addition to electronic messages, the bill also includes requiring permission to install any computer programs.

What winery messaging is likely to be affected?

The emails most affected will be marketing emails and newsletters. While you can send these to customers who have purchased within the last two years under implied consent, you will need to confirm they still want to receive communication, via express consent.

Emails such as receipts are allowed under implied consent, and customers should continue to expect these.

*In order to send receipts to your customers, you must have them notified at checkout that providing an email address is for the purpose of obtaining an e-receipt. Consent for receipts also happens if your winery and the customer have an existing business within the last two years before the date the electronic messaging is sent.

Under Article 10.9a, the legislation states that consent for gift receipts, or gift recipient emails is implied if “the person who sends the message, the person who causes it to be sent or the person who permits it to be sent has an existing business relationship or an existing non-business relationship with the person to whom it was sent.” Therefore, any electronic messages sent out for gift purposes are legal.

There are two types of permission, or consent agreements, that can be obtained by your customers. The first is express or explicit permission, meaning you explicitly asked the individual for authorization to send electronic messaging. When asking for permission, the following must be included:

–          Company name

–          Name of the individual asking for consent

–          Company address and postal code, phone number

–          Company website URL

–          Email provider from whom they will receive messaging

–          Notice that unsubscribing any time is possible

Implied permission takes place is an informal situation where the conditions of express permission have not been met but a relationship exists. For example, a customer makes a purchase, during the exchange of business cards, or in person. CASL allows two full years from implied permission for you to gain express consent.

How can you prepare?

  1. Before July 1, reach out to your customers via email (“express permission”), asking them to opt in to receiving your future emails.  If done by phone, you’ll need to secure their consent via phone or snail mail.
  1. Structure your emails to follow the “two click rule,” enabling customers to either accept, or unsubscribe from, your offer to future electronic messages.
  1. Note that posting to the general public via social media is not covered under CASL rules; however, sending private messages to a specific customer is punishable.
  1. Once you receive consent, you can freely send all electronic messages through every medium.

Considering the severe penalties involved, CASL will potentially have massive impact on small businesses that fail to adapt to the new rules. While the legislation will definitely benefit consumers tired of suffering SPAM, it also has real potential to restrict communication between your winery and your wine club and fans.

Interestingly, because CASL applies to all electronic messages sent to, through or from Canada, that means it applies to international senders who send email to Canada.

It is vital to prepare by letting your customers know the value of receiving your emails for promotion, announcements and club participation – especially such basic notices as receipts and subscription confirmations.

For more information, and a complete guide to CASL, visit Elite Email’s free online “CASL Survival Guide” as well as CRTC’s official release of the legislation.

Blackboxx clients are welcome to contact with questions, or for support, relating to their efforts to comply with new CASL rules.