Seven years after its approval by Parliament and three years after it came into force, a Canada-wide survey shows that businesses, small and large, are still confused about CASL compliance, the types of messages it regulates, and the means to protect oneself from fines and lawsuits.
The study, which was conducted recently by the Direct Marketing Association of Canada (DMAC) and law firm Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP, surveyed over 200 individuals directly responsible for CASL compliance of their organisation. Here are some of the highlights from the study:
- 64% didn’t understand how to make their message CASL compliant beyond consent and an unsubscribe link
- 46% were unaware that an organisation could be ordered to pay damages
- 40% of them didn’t know that they can be held personally liable
- 64% stated that their organisation did not (or didn’t know if their organisation had) a formal compliance policy
- 63% believed that employees and staff don’t require CASL compliance training
- 60% indicated that their company never performed a compliance audit
This is quite disconcerting, especially considering that the last 3 points are items required by the CRTC, to be able to defend oneself, should you face an investigation or prosecution.
No better for Quebec SMBs
Although this study was conducted amongst medium to large business in English Canada, a similar study was just recently published surveying Quebec SMBs.
- Less than 5% of Quebec SMBs comply with CASL
- More than 75% were unaware that companies could be fined, even if they have explicit consent
- Only 35% knew that from July 1st, 2017 onwards, companies will be subject to civil or collective redress
- 40% were surprised to learn that SMBs, as well as individuals, can face the same charges as large companies
- 38% didn’t know that many QC companies have already been investigated and received fines
- 1 out of 4 were unaware that CASL regulates individual emails, as well as text and social media messages
The CRTC’s shortcomings
Although the CRTC enforces CASL, informing and educating businesses is their greatest shortcoming. An article exists to help companies defend themselves, but it must meet the CRTC’s eight required categories. However, finding these requirements on an official website is very difficult.
The regulatory body does give presentations, but for the moment, it is almost exclusively to large law firms in Toronto. Unfortunately, 97% of Canadian companies are small businesses that can’t afford to do business with these big firms.
What can you do for yourself?
Canadian law states that “no one is supposed to ignore the law“.
A compliance program is also the only way to protect you and your business, and your employees, from tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and legal fees.
So what do you do? You don’t want to stop your email marketing activities because it’s the top digital performer when it comes to ROI. We’ve done the calculations and penny for penny, all things considered, even a small investment in a compliance program is better than no investment at all.