Canada: Federal Government Publishes Final Anti-Spam Regulations – Law To Come Into Force In July 2014

On December 4, the Federal Government published final regulations (the "Industry Canada Regulations") under Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation (the "CASL"). The release of the Industry Canada Regulations paves the way for the CASL to come into force, which Industry Minister James Moore concurrently announced would largely occur on July 1, 2014, following a period for businesses and consumers to familiarize themselves with the CASL and its regulations. Specific provisions relating to the unsolicited installation of computer programs will only come into force on January 15, 2015, and the private right of action contemplated by the legislation will not become effective until July 1, 2017.

Since first being enacted in 2010, the CASL and its draft regulations have been subject to significant criticism and debate by businesses and other stakeholders, resulting in numerous delays in their coming into force. The final Industry Canada Regulations, which set out certain exemptions to the CASL and conditions for the use of consent obtained to send electronic messages pursuant to the law, attempt to address certain of these stakeholder concerns. Separate regulations, published by the CRTC and finalized in March 2012, address the required form and content of electronic messages sent and consent obtained pursuant to the CASL.

A summary of the CASL, the Industry Canada Regulations and their impact on businesses in Canada is set out below.

Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation

Intended to be one of the most rigorous anti-spam laws in the world, the CASL prohibits the transmission of any "commercial electronic message" unless the express or implied consent of the recipient has been obtained and the message is in a prescribed form.1 A "commercial electronic message" is defined broadly as a message sent by any means of telecommunication, including a text, sound, voice or image that, having regard to the content of the message, would be reasonably concluded as having for its primary purpose, or one of its purposes, encouraging participation in a commercial activity, including, among other things, a message that offers to purchase, sell or lease a product or service. It would also generally include an electronic message that contains a request for consent to send an otherwise prohibited message.

The express consent requirements are more onerous than those otherwise applicable in the privacy law context and it is expected that many companies' current practices for obtaining consent to collect and use personal information will need to be revised in light of these requirements. The categories of implied consent are limited to where there is an "existing business relationship" and or an "existing non-business relationship" and contain a two-year sunset period, following which consent (express or implied) must be obtained anew.

The CASL also contains provisions prohibiting persons, in the course of a commercial activity, from installing or causing to be installed a computer program on any other person's computer system unless express consent has been obtained.

Maximum penalties for a violation of the CASL are $1 million for individuals and $10 million for corporations. Officers, directors, agents and mandataries of a corporation who directed, authorized or consented to the commission of a violation may also be liable unless they establish that they exercised due diligence to prevent the commission of the violation. The CASL also provides for a private right of action for persons affected by a violation of the law, expected to come into force on July 1, 2017. The maximum amount a private applicant may be entitled to for receiving a commercial electronic message in violation of the CASL is $200 for each violation, not exceeding $1 million for each day.

Davies' prior Flash on the provisions of the CASL itself is available on our website.

Amendments to Other Legislation

The CASL's coming into force will also result in amendments to other legislation, including to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act ("PIPEDA") in order to give the CASL paramountcy over PIPEDA in the case of any conflict and, essentially, to make it illegal to collect electronic address information using a computer program or to collect personal information over a network, in each case in contravention of any act of Parliament. Enactment of the CASL will also result in amendments to the Competition Act that will prohibit any false or misleading representations (whether or not material) in sender information, subject matter information or locator (URL) information contained in electronic messages.

Industry Canada Regulations

The CASL contains various exemptions to the consent and form requirements imposed on a sender of a commercial electronic message, including, for example, exemptions for a commercial electronic message that is sent by or on behalf of an individual to another individual with whom they have a personal or family relationship, or that is sent to a person who is engaged in a commercial activity and consists solely of an inquiry or application related to that activity.

The Industry Canada Regulations, which update but remain quite similar to the most recent draft regulations issued in January 2013, define the terms "personal relationship" and "family relationship" as follows:

  • "Family relationship" is intended to be broad and is defined as a relationship between individuals who are related to one another through a marriage, common-law partnership or legal parent-child relationship provided that those individuals have had direct, voluntary, two-way communication.
  • "Personal relationship" is similarly expansive and includes individuals who have had direct, voluntary, two-way communication and for whom it would be reasonable to conclude have a personal relationship, taking into consideration a number of factors, including the sharing of interests, frequency of communications and length of time since the parties communicated.

In order to address certain stakeholder concerns about the scope of the CASL (and prior draft regulations), the Industry Canada Regulations also contain a number of additional exemptions to the commercial electronic message consent and form requirements, including exemptions for commercial electronic messages:

  • that are sent within organizations or between organizations that already have a relationship, where the messages are sent by an employee or other representative and are relevant to the activities of the organization that receives the message;
  • that are sent over closed messaging systems (e.g., messages on user accounts on bank websites);
  • that are sent to satisfy legal obligations;
  • if the person who sends the message (or causes or permits it to be sent), reasonably believes that the message will be accessed in one of 116 foreign states listed in a schedule to the Industry Canada Regulations and the message conforms to the law of that foreign state; and
  • that are sent by or on behalf of a registered charity provided the primary purpose of the message is to raise funds for the charity.

The Industry Canada Regulations also exempt from the consent requirements of the CASL the first commercial electronic message that is sent following a referral by any individual who has an existing business relationship, existing non-business relationship, family relationship or personal relationship with the person who sends the message as well as any of those relationships with the individual to whom the message is sent, provided that the message discloses the name of the individual who made the referral and states that the message is sent as a result of the referral.

Further, the Industry Canada Regulations contain a provision stating that, where a sender of a commercial electronic message obtains consent from an individual to allow third parties to send commercial electronic messages to that individual, any subsequent message from the third party to the individual must provide the opportunity for the recipient to withdraw consent from all third parties. This requires persons using this form of consent to send commercial electronic messages to be able to alert the original requester that the recipient's consent to receive messages from third parties has been withdrawn.


The publication of the Industry Canada Regulations and the announcement of a date for the CASL to come into force brings to close an almost decade-long legislative process. The final Industry Canada Regulations have been revised from initial drafts. Nevertheless, there remain concerns raised by various stakeholders about the potential chilling effect the law could have on many common business practices that are not intended to be caught by anti-spam legislation. In light of the incoming legislation, affected companies should examine their policies and practices to determine whether and what changes are required in order to comply with the CASL and its regulations.


1 The provisions relating to commercial electronic messages apply only where the message is sent from Canada or accessed in Canada. They do not apply where the commercial electronic message is simply routed through Canada.

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.

In association with
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
Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:
  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.
  • Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.
    If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here
    If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here

    Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

    Use of

    You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). 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 & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


    Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd 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 or performance of information available from this server.

    The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


    Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

    • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
    • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
    • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

    Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

    Information Collection and Use

    We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

    We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

    Mondaq News Alerts

    In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


    A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

    Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

    Log Files

    We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


    This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

    Surveys & Contests

    From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


    If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


    From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

    *** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


    This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

    Correcting/Updating Personal Information

    If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

    Notification of Changes

    If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

    How to contact Mondaq

    You can contact us with comments or queries at

    If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.

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