Canada: Canada Finalizes Anti-Spam Regulations; New Anti-Spam Rules In Effect July 2014

The Canadian government has finalized long-awaited regulations made under Canada's Anti-Spam Law (CASL), announcing at the same time that the core of the new anti-spam regime will come into force on Canada Day, July 1, 2014, while other provisions will come into force the following year, and some will not be effective until 2017.

While the final regulations do include a number of last-minute revisions that respond to concerns raised by Canadian businesses, the new regime promises to have a significant negative impact on many businesses that have come to rely on electronic marketing. 

CASL in a nutshell

In essence, CASL contains three core prohibitions, each of which is subject to a limited number of specific and narrow exemptions.

On the electronic messaging front, CASL generally requires prior express consent to send a commercial electronic message, and further imposes certain form requirements with respect to those messages, including providing in the message information identifying the sender and a mechanism to opt-out from the receipt of future messages.

Similarly, the law also generally prohibits the installation of a computer program on a user's system or device without express consent, also imposing certain notice requirements in connection with the collection of that consent.

Finally, CASL also requires explicit consent for the alteration of transmission data in an electronic message or the rerouting of a message to a destination different than that specified by the sender.

A tale of two regulations

Further details of the requirements of the new anti-spam regime are also set out in two sets of regulations.

The first companion set of regulations, the Electronic Commerce Protection Regulations (CRTC) were finalized last year by the CRTC.  They generally contain detailed requirements respecting the form of messages and requests for consent.

The second set of regulations, the long-awaited Electronic Commerce Protection Regulations, were registered by the Government on 4 December 2013.  This publication is a final version of draft regulations that were originally proposed in July 2011, then substantially revised in January 2012. 

Earlier versions of the Regulations attracted significant criticism from the business community, which expressed concern that the regulations omitted some important clarifications of the requirements of the law, failed to provide exemptions for certain business and behaviours that should not be caught by the legislation and imposed unworkable and unnecessary requirements that may have had a disproportionate impact on technologies such as text messaging.

Phasing in the law

As noted, the core anti-spam provision will become effective on Canada Day, 2014.  The July in-force date means that businesses will have only half as long as had been expected to get ready for the new law.  Earlier statements from the Government had suggested there would be a grace period of approximately one year before the law would come into force.

Businesses will, however, have more lead time to come into compliance with those aspects of the new law governing the installation of computer programs, as these will come into force on January 15, 2015.

The Government has also delayed until July 1, 2017 the coming into force of a controversial new private right of action for non-compliance with CASL.  The Government has stated that his delayed effective date, a full three years after the core anti-spam provision comes into force, is intended to reduce uncertainty for business about how the new law will be interpreted.

What's new in the regulations

Some hoping for significant new exemptions will be disappointed, as the final Regulations make only a few changes to the revised version published in January 2012; however, others, including registered charities, are likely to be pleased with the new regulations.  We summarized the main features of the January version of the regulations in an earlier post.

In addition to a number of clarifying wording changes, the final regulations add the following new exemptions from the general requirement to obtain prior consent and provide an opt-out mechanism:

  • Electronic messaging service – the Regulations exempt messages sent and received on "an electronic messaging service" if the identification information and unsubscribe mechanism that would otherwise be required in the message itself are conspicuously displayed on the user interface, and the recipient consents to the receipt, including by implication.  This exemption would appear to be directed at social media platforms and similar services.
  • Limited access accounts – also exempted are commercial electronic messages sent on limited access proprietary accounts by the account owner to the recipient.  This exemption appears to be targeted at banking websites and similar systems.
  • Foreign recipients – senders are exempt from Canadian anti-spam requirements where the message is sent to certain foreign states (listed in a schedule to the regulations) with their own anti-spam laws, provided the message conforms to the local law in question.  This is a significant shift from the earlier version of the Regulations, which required compliance with the Canadian law regardless of the jurisdiction in which a message was received.
  • Charities – the new Regulations include a new, broad exemption for commercial electronic messages sent by or on behalf of registered charities for fundraising purposes, regardless of whether the recipient previously donated to the charity.
  • Political parties and organizations – a similar new exemption exists for political parties, organizations and candidates for public office, with respect to commercial electronic messages sent soliciting political contributions

In addition, the "referral" exemption contained in the January 2013 version of the Regulations, which originally applied only to individuals, now provides that any "person" (including corporations) are permitted to send one commercial electronic message without consent, based on a referral by another individual with whom the sender has an existing business relationship.

What's not in the Regulations

Among the more significant unaddressed concerns raised by the business community are:

  • Prior consents – many stakeholders wanted the Government to treat as valid any consents to the receipt of commercial electronic messages that are obtained in compliance with the federal private sector privacy law, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. Since the regulations were not amended to respond to this concern, many businesses who have collected implied consents that were valid under privacy laws will have to re-approach potential message recipients to secure explicit consent.
  • Manufacturers - manufacturers without a direct relationship with end users of their products (such as where the products are purchased from a retailer) had sought the ability to send commercial electronic messages to those end users without explicit consent in certain circumstances. While exemptions exist with respect to sending warranty and recall information, manufacturers will otherwise have to obtain explicit consent.
  • Existing business relationships – some had sought to expand the "existing business relationship" exemption to include legitimate commercial electronic messages sent in the context of additional ongoing business relationships, which do not clearly fall within the narrow definition of the current exemption

Time to start work

CASL and its companion Regulations and guidelines comprise a complex package of detailed requirements and exceptions.  In light of the short timeline before the anti-spam portions of the law are to come into force, Canadian businesses would do well to start work immediately to implement the changes to their electronic marketing practices that will be required to comply with the new regime.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions