Starting on July 1, 2014, the CRTC – Canada’s version of the FCC – is enacting a new set of anti-spam laws. The TL;DR version of these regulations boils down like so; if you are engaging in an electronic communication with the purpose of selling something to the recipient, or using said communication to direct a person to a commercial website, you need to get their express consent to do so. Since I sell nothing on my website, and the new post emails I send out are not engaged in any sort of attempt to get a person to buy a product, it would be quite a stretch to treat my thrice weekly emails as a “commercial electronic message.” Moreover, everybody signed up for email alerts at some point over the last four years.
Had I bothered to educate myself on the CASL’s definition of a commercial electronic message prior to sending an email to everybody on the Page of Reviews email update list, whereupon I said I was turning off email alerts because of the anti-spam law, then I probably could have avoided writing this post. Who knew that even yours truly can get wrapped up in the odd bit of internet frenzy. Be that as it may, I’m going to be leaving the Page of Reviews’ email updates offline for a little while.
This is because the WordPress plug-in I am using for email alerts is far from perfect, and this is as good a time as any to find a better option. Apropos of the Canadian Anti-Spam Laws, my current plug-in lacks an option for easy unsubscriptions. Second, the plug-in produces no records of new subscriptions. Third, it lacks a two-step verification for new subscriptions i.e. you sign up, then it sends you a confirmation email to ensure you actually want email alerts. Until I can find a email plug-in that gives me all three of those things, you’ll have to content yourself with twitter and facebook updates on new content.
For any other writers/bloggers who might be confused about these regulations, here’s a link to the CRTC’s FAQ on the anti-spam laws. The definitions for some the terms that the CRTC throws around willy-nilly can be found here. For the reader’s digest version of the former, you can check out this post on LinkedIn and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s info sheet on the CASL.
To reiterate, if you’re not selling something via email, text, or facebook message, or using the former to lure people to a commercial website (e.g. Amazon.com or an Etsy store) then you’re probably fine and can carry on as usual.
NB: I am not a lawyer, but I am a competent professional researcher. In that light, I’m quite confident in my interpretation of these rules. If you know better, then tell me and I will update this post as necessary.