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CASL Hitting Charities, Schools; Threatens Bake-Sale Emails

By Ken Magill
 
6/24/14
 
Way to go, Canada. 
 
Your most dumbassed anti-spam law in the history of the universe is adversely affecting charities and schools. 
 
First, this gem from the Waterloo Record where you’ve got school-board members worried about friggin’ bake sale emails:
 
“Though not considered business organizations, local school boards aren’t taking any chances when it comes to complying with new anti-spam email laws coming into effect July 1,” the article said
 
“While the spirit of the law may be intended to target for-profit businesses, school boards are moving fast to comply anyway.
“’We’re taking a conservative approach because we don’t want to be on the wrong side of the law,’ explained Lorie Hough, freedom of information, privacy and records management officer at the Waterloo Region District School Board.
 
...
 
“Hough said the board had to immediately ‘clean up’ its database of student family emails before the anti-spam law becomes enforceable on July 1 by ensuring it only contained addresses of families that have provided expressed consent.
 
...
 
“The Waterloo Catholic District School Board is also putting steps into place to ensure communication procedures conform.
 
“Chief managing officer John Shewchuk said the board is finalizing details on its strategy before the July 1 deadline, but noted administration and schools already rely on customized NewsWire services which offer parents a chance to subscribe and unsubscribe.
 
“Meeting the terms of the new legislation is proving cumbersome for boards, said Shewchuk.
 
“’The biggest issue on this whole thing is the short timeline and the whole host of unintended consequences for schools the new law has unleashed,’ he told the Times.” [sic]
 
“I don’t think the government really thought through the fact that schools are trying hard to be eco-friendly by cutting back on paper and going electronic, and now you face massive fines if you send a school newsletter to someone advertising the bake sale without their prior consent.
 
[emphasis mine]
 
“It’s like using a sledgehammer to swat an ant.”
 
No kidding.
 
Whether or not digital media is greener than print is up for debate, but that Canada’s anti-spam law is absurdly overly broad is not.
 
Then there’s the effect it’s having on Canadian charities.
 
CASL exempts email from registered charities soliciting donations, but not all charities in Canada are registered. 
 
Also, charities do more than strictly solicit donations using email.
 
“Many nonprofits generate their own revenue, by charging fees for products and services and participation in activities and programs,” says copy on the Ontario Nonprofit Network’s site
 
“Unfortunately, the legislation and proposed regulations were drafted initially for commercial businesses and did not accommodate for the unique activities of the nonprofit sector and its community-building work. This means that many revenue-generating activities of the nonprofit sector, however small the fee, fall under the anti-spam legislation.”
 
One of the main problems with CASL is it requires proof of prior consent.
 
“But since non-profits previously had no need to keep track of this data, many don’t have records of opt-in consent (or the technology to track it),” reports CanadianLawyerMag.com. “And unless they have opt-in consent — and can prove due diligence — they now have to get that consent or purge their databases of those names.”
 
...
 
“CASL is going to be a large compliance burden for charities and non-profits, says Ryan Prendergast, an associate at Carters Professional Corp,” CanadianLawyerMag.com continued. “’They already have to deal with a complex web of rules such as the Income Tax Act, as well as regulations that vary from province to province, so this adds to that compliance burden.
 
“’It’s always been ironic to me that one of stated purposes of the legislation is to target activities that increase costs, but the legislation poses additional compliance costs,’ he says. ‘There will be initial front-end costs to make sure compliance will be possible for the organization.’”
 
The word “ironic” in this case is a euphemism for offensively stupid.
 
Every resource Canadian non-profits divert to comply with CASL is a resource diverted from its intended cause.
 
Moreover, the required proof-of-consent permission passes will decimate non-profits’ email lists. Check that: They probably already have.
 
And all for what? To solve a problem that has already been dealt with?
 
But hey, at least those pesky bake-sale emails threatening the very existence of the Internet will no longer be a threat.
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Terms: Feel free to be as big a jerk as you want, but don't attack anyone other than me personally. And don't criticize people or companies other than me anonymously. Got something crappy to say? Say it under your real name. Anonymous potshots and personal attacks aimed at me, however, are fine.

Posted by: Outi Tuomaala
Date: 2014-06-26 08:30:43
Subject: Best practices

I agree about the CASL not solving the spam problem. However, it should improve the best email practices for all within Canada. It will reduce “domestic” spam from reputable companies and organizations who do want to follow the rules and regulations. I live in Sweden where the “EU opt-in directive” applies. Prior permission is required for B2C communications but not for B2B communications. This makes Sweden a paradise for local spam targeted at organizational email addresses. The opt-out mechanism does very little as there are always new organizations sending spam, including non-profits. I believe the same as in Sweden won’t happen in Canada with the CASL in effect. Therefore, IMO, the US “CAN-SPAM Act” and the EU “Opt-in Directive“ should also follow the suit and introduce opt-in requirement. Yes, there is a learning curve and hassles at the beginning but it is possible to obtain a prior consent for all commercial mass email communications, including bake-sales.
Posted by: Viney
Date: 2014-06-25 17:03:54
Subject: CASL

Well companies will inovate to use say applications like whatsapp to send communication - Oh wait that is CEM :) So do we go back to the postal serrvice to send spam?
Posted by: Ken Magill
Date: 2014-06-24 15:33:53
Subject: The goal

Hey Kate: Thanks for the comment, but it doesn't matter what the goal is. What matters is what's happening. Moreover, CASL won't do anything to solve what's left of the spam problem. CASL is all hassle and no benefit. Thanks again Ken
Posted by: Kate
Date: 2014-06-24 15:09:42
Subject: Maybe that's not the goal

I think the goal for CASL is to go after habitual spammers. No one is trying to hurt bake sales or non profits. It's to go after companies or people that have no regard for emailing people or spamming individuals.

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