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Canadian anti-spam legislation and best practices for sending electronic messages

June 18, 2014
By Me Alison Beck

The Government of Canada has introduced anti-spam legislation (CASL) which is intended to regulate the use of commercial electronic messaging and the installation of computer software without consent.

CASL comes into effect on July 1, 2014.

Among other things, CASL prohibits the:

  • sending of commercial electronic messages without the recipient's consent, including messages to email addresses and social networking accounts, as well as text messages sent to a cell phone;
  • collection of electronic addresses by the use of computer programs or the use of such addresses, without consent (address harvesting);
  • installation of computer programs without consent (e.g., viruses, spyware); and
  • provision of false or misleading information either in the content of a message or in sender information.

If CASL applies to a particular electronic communication, the monetary penalties for non-compliance are extremely high. Please note, however, that there are a number of exceptions to the application of CASL. For example, electronic messages that do not contain commercial content, such as fundraising messages, certain newsletters, notices of classroom changes, messages about enrolment, graduation and other core activities of the university, are not subject to the rules set forth in CASL.

The university and affiliated organizations are not the intended target of CASL and the majority of electronic communications sent by the latter are not subject to CASL. That being said, a wide range of organizations in Canada have been adopting new practices to comply with CASL.

Whether or not CASL applies to a particular communication, it is necessary for Concordia and its affiliated organizations to adopt best practices that reflect an appropriate institutional approach towards electronic communications and the stated goals of CASL. For this reason, in the coming days, a document containing best practices will be posted on the Office of the General Counsel’s web page along with other helpful documents, including a flow chart  and a checklist for sending electronic messages.

Training offered

Trainings are currently being scheduled with various units at the university. If your unit has yet to be contacted to discuss CASL and the implementation of best practices or if you have questions, please contact Me Alison Beck at ext. 4198 or at

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