Semalt: Example Of Anti-Spam Law That Could Cost You $10 Million In Canada

Canada enacted an anti-spam legislation on Canada Day in 2014. Business owners are now fined $10 million for not complying with the law. For individual spam senders, the fee stands at $1 million.

The legislature passed the law in 2010, and it was not until 2014 that they put it into effect. The law gave all business owners a three-year transition period up to July 2017. It was sufficient time for all online marketers to review their current practices and compare them against the new guidelines set by the Canadian Government, or gain express consent from the individuals they served.

Oliver King, the Customer Success Manager of Semalt, has tailored a summary of what the provisions in the new law state, and their implications for online marketing.

1. Never send electronic messages to people who have not requested them

The anti-spam legislation states that under no circumstances should individuals and companies send any e-mail messages to personal email addresses, cell phones, social media accounts, or smartphones without consent from the owner. Unless the receiver is in a business partnership with the sender, all contact data must consist of people who have opted in. It requires companies to do away with the automated mailing list building. The solution could be problematic if the email list is bought or acquired from a third party, a person does not give their express permission to appear in the list, and if the company failed to confirm that the contact is active.

2. Do not change or forward the message and its transmission data to another destination

The law stipulates that one can only change the email message's destination if the receiver consents to it. One perceived meaning would mean that you cannot include a third party (on behalf of another person) in the sending the message or handling any response to it. Another explanation is that this was intended to prevent from phishing attacks, or email hacking, where messages malicious people intercept the messages before they reach their intended recipients so that they can siphon sensitive information from them.

3. Do not install any computer program on another person's computer without their knowledge

It prevented companies from using their email messages as avenues from which they could embed and install programs on their computers upon opening the emails. The legislation does not distinguish between spyware, malware, or legitimate software. Therefore, all senders must make the purpose of the software included in these messages known to the receiver.

4. Refrain from using misleading representations online, or for any promotion

The law supports honesty in all marketing strategies. Misleading advertisements or those that contain false information are in direct violation of the law.

5. Do not collect any addresses or personal information without permission

Using an automated process to collect any person's particulars is in direct violation of the Criminal Code of Canada. They cannot also use any collected addresses using the method to send electronic messages intended to market to them.

6. Have a way to prove consent as well as a way out for contacts

The law also gives marketers an option to guard their email campaigns by having evidence that someone consented to be on their mailing list.


The design of the new rule was meant to remind marketers that they must treat their recipients with the utmost respect. With the large flux of email messages sent every day, Canada only wishes that the most relevant ones reach their recipients.

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