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Yay! CASL Solving Problem No One Complained About!

5/5/15
 
By Ken Magill
 
Newsflash! The Canadian anti-spam law has reduced spam by 37 percent since it went into effect last July, according to security firm Cloudmark!
 
Yay! Clap! Clap! Clap! Woo hoo!
 
Break out the party hats and streamers! Bring out the cake! Pass the vodka! Mmmm. Cake and vodka. My favorite. Actually, anything and vodka is my favorite. But today it’s cake!
 
Oh wait.
 
What was that?
 
CASL didn’t reduce spam by 37 percent?
 
It reduced spam coming out of Canada by 37 percent?
 
Oh.
 
So it was kind of like reducing the humidity in Nevada by 37 percent? Or like reducing the number of evenings I’m sober, tolerable, and haven’t passed out and soiled myself by 37 percent?
 
Okay.
 
Well, I guess I’ll put my little party hat, streamers and cake away, then.
 
I’m not putting the vodka away, though. That’s an all-occasion accessory.
 
According to Cloudmark, 78 percent of Canadian spam is aimed at the U.S. 
 
That makes sense. It’s where the numbers are in North America.
 
So now we know CASL reduced a problem absolutely no one was complaining about. It’s kind of like someone cleaning out his garage to protect a neighbor from clutter the neighbor wasn’t aware existed.
 
Mighty neighborly. Thank you, Canada, I guess.
 
So what about Canadian inboxes? You know, the inboxes CASL was supposed to protect. What effect did CASL have on them?
 
Well, according to Cloudmark, CASL resulted in a 29 percent decrease in email received by Canadians, both spam and legitimate. However, it resulted in no significant change in the percentage of spam Canadians receive.
 
Pre-CASL, spam was 16.5 percent of the email Canadians received, according to Cloudmark. After CASL it was 16.6 percent, according to Cloudmark.
 
Essentially, spam is the same percentage of a lower number of emails overall Canadians received since CASL went into effect.
 
The report doesn’t indicate how much of the spam Canadians received pre- or post-CASL was hitting their inboxes and how much was hitting their spam folders.
 
Let me take a stab at it: The number of spam messages hitting Canadian inboxes pre-CASL was maybe one or two a week. The number of spam messages hitting Canadian inboxes post-CASL is maybe one or two a week.
 
And if 16 percent of Canadian inboxes are filled with spam, may I suggest the entire country migrate to Gmail? See how easy that was, Canada?
 
In any case, the 29-percent drop in email Canadians received post-CASL was evenly split between spam and legitimate email, according to Cloudmark.
 
So Canadians are receiving almost 15 percent less legitimate email since CASL went into effect.
 
It’s safe to assume that Canadian grannies didn’t see CASL as a threat and decide to stop sending birthday wishes.
 
The 15 percent drop was a drop in commercial messages.
 
That’s 15 percent fewer sales opportunities in Canada delivered by the most efficient, least irritating direct-marketing mechanism in the history of the human race.
 
And for what?
 
“Why did CASL have such an impact on legitimate email?” the Cloudmark report said. “Most likely because it enforces far more stringent requirements for obtaining consent for marketing emails. Practices for adding a consumer email address to a mailing list that would be acceptable under the US CAN-SPAM legislation do not satisfy the level of affirmative consent required by CASL. While CASL has been ineffective in preventing the professional spammers promoting bootleg pharmaceuticals, diet pills and adult services, it has stopped unscrupulous email marketers from growing their mailing lists by comarketing or easy-to-miss opt out checkboxes.”
 
[Emphasis mine.]
 
If Cloudmark is right, all the law has done is prevent marketers from growing their lists by co-marketing and pre-checking permission boxes.
 
But in this instance, Cloudmark is not right. The report doesn’t indicate slowed list growth. It flat out states a 15 percent drop in legitimate email hitting Canadian inboxes. That 15 percent drop is the result of an entirely appropriate fear of an unnecessary law.
 
That’s a lot of sales opportunities missed and jobs not created purely as the result of a piece of abject legislative stupidity.
 
CASL has done little to nothing beyond posing a gargantuan threat to legitimate marketers. And Canadian companies have lost a significant percentage of potential email sales, as a result.
 
Oh, and the best part? 
 
The official title of Canada’s anti-spam law starts: “An Act to promote the efficiency and adaptability of the Canadian economy by regulating certain activities that discourage reliance on electronic means of carrying out commercial activities…”
 
Got that? An act ostensibly aimed at regulating things that discourage e-commerce has discouraged e-commerce.
 
Now that’s irony.
 
Wasn’t there someone who predicted CASL would have little to no effect on hardcore spammers while hamstringing legitimate businesses, resulting in needlessly lost sales opportunities?
 
Someone predicted that, right?
 
Now who was it?
 
Hmmm. At a bit of a loss here. Tap. Tap. Tap.
 
Now, what whip-smarty predicted CASL would be all pain and no benefit?
 
His name is on the tip of my tongue. Oh, wait. That’s vodka. Vodka is on the tip of my tongue.
 
Wait! I remember!
 
Me! It was me who predicted CASL would be a needlessly threatening piece of crap that would accomplish nothing of value!
 
Man, on the rare occasions I sober up I can really nail it, can’t I?
 
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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: Davide Migliavacca
Date: 2015-05-06 12:31:04
Subject: Pretty right...

In order to generate some measurable effect on the most obnoxious opt-out marketers out there, CASL should've been adopted in the US, not Canada!

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