MailChimp and the new Canadian Spam laws! Unsubscribe NOW if you don’t want this!


I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about MailChimp and the new laws coming into effect as of July 2014.

Previously, we used newsletter software that we purchased several years ago to give us a tool to send out our newsletters. Even though it had good tracking and subscription features, since it was downloaded software it had to continuously be online in order to get updates or reach out to see if anybody had subscribed or unsubscribed.

As of March we ditched the software and tried MailChimp (Mailchimp.com). It turned out to be a great decision.

MailChimp provides a very comprehensive subscription system which includes instant updating of contacts and provides the checks and balances necessary to comply with the new Canadian laws.

Specifically, the new laws dictate how electronic messages require consent to send from any computer in Canada. It is a good news/bad news situation.

Good news is you should not receive unsolicited email that has nothing to do with you or your business. This does not include mail from outside Canada unfortunately. So those foreign spam emails will still come through.

Bad news, if you are one of those companies that rely on email marketing, you now have to comply with ensuring that your emails are related to the receiver’s interests (business or personal), that your target receiver is specific and not generic and that whatever you send has an unsubscribe option (at no cost) to the receiver which will opt them out from the future mailings.

Good news, there are some exceptions to that – it breaks down to express and implied consent as follows:

Express consent is when you a) clearly describe the purposes of getting consent, b) provide the name of the sender seeking consent, c) provide contact info, and d) indicate that they can unsubscribe.

In this case MailChimp is great because it has a check box that covers all these things when you subscribe. Of course, if a contact emails you directly saying they would like to subscribe, you can still enter them into the system but I would recommend keeping all emails about that in a folder in case there is any confusion.

Implied consent is when you a) have an existing business relationship within the last 2 years with the receiver b) the sender and receiver have an existing non-business relationship c) the recipient has conspicuously published their electronic address (e.g., on a website), has not expressly stated that they do not wish to receive unsolicited messages, and the message is related to the recipient’s professional capacity; or, d) the recipient has disclosed their electronic address directly to the sender, has not expressly stated that they do not wish to receive unsolicited messages, and the message is related to the recipient’s business.

This implied consent covers most genuine business contacts which means if you are dealing with existing clients, unless they unsubscribe, you should be good to go.

This also means that if you are sending out stuff for new contacts and prospects, as long as their website has their contact info, and the website does not expressly state otherwise that they do not wish unsolicited messages, you would most likely be ok.

However, the unsubscribe option ALWAYS has to be there and available and it is up to the sender to maintain that list and make sure it is followed.

Again, MailChimp comes in for the win. Since it is web based, the contact list you manage is always up to date and will let you block, review, delete and change your list according to every mailing you send out. It reports back any dead emails and reports on who has unsubscribed and automatically flags those out of the next mailout.

There are also some exemptions with regards to employees, family or personal mail, legal, political and charitible scenarios but for those details you can visit the government website at:
http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?DocId=3832885&File=29&Language=e&Mode=1#1

or for an easier read, you can visit Nnovation LLP who put a really simple summary at:

http://www.nnovation.com/practice-expertise/canadas-anti-spam-legislation/

Another note, as part of the same law, unwanted computer software will also be banned. The new law establishes rules for the installation of computer programs onto a system. You now require express consent from the owners.

For us, as IT providers that means we have to make sure that when we install software for a client, even though they engaged us to do so, it is still our responsibility to inform them of the details especially if the software we are installing affects settings, data, storage or remote access.

It does not apply to upgrades and updates where the original program is already there.

Finally, they have also ruled that unauthorized alteration of transmission data is illegal. This is specifically for software that redirects your activities on your computer to a 3rd party website (fraudulant or not) that you did not originally consent too. This is usually done by software that is free or not legitimately created and ends up infecting your computer. We called it “Hijackware” or “pharming”.

For further details on the technical side of things, feel free to contact us anytime.

So remember, if you don’t want our newsletter, you have until July to unsubscribe below or we will assume consent. 😉

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One Response to MailChimp and the new Canadian Spam laws! Unsubscribe NOW if you don’t want this!

  1. akaljian says:

    just to clarify for fellow networkers…

    source: CRTC http://fightspam.gc.ca/eic/site/030.nsf/eng/h_00050.html#Commercial

    Someone gives me a business card: Is that clear consent to add them to my distribution list?

    You may have their implied consent to send them CEMs, as long as:

    the message relates to the recipient’s role, functions or duties in an official or business capacity; and

    the recipient has not made a statement when handing you the business card that they do not wish to receive promotional or marketing messages (CEMs) at that address.

    It is important to remember that the onus is on the sender to prove they received consent.

    Recall that consent under CASL is also implied if you have an existing business relationship, existing non-business relationship with the person.

    Compliance will be examined on a case-by-case basis in light of the specific circumstances of a given situation.

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