The guessing game is over. Three years after it was enacted, we now know that Canada’s anti-spam law (CASL) will come into force in stages over the next four years, beginning on July 1, 2014.
The Department of Industry announced the following key dates when it published long-awaited Governor in Council regulations on December 4, 2013:
July 1, 2014 – Most of CASL and the final Regulations come into force
January 15, 2015 – Provisions of CASL related to the installation of computer programs come into force
July 1, 2017 – Provisions of CASL related to a Private Right of Action will come into force
Those who have been following the progress of the legislation will be relieved to learn that Industry Canada has made a number of important changes that address some of the concerns raised by industry since the draft regulations published last January. Examples include expanding the exemption for business-to-business communications and adding new exemptions for certain categories of messaging platforms.
However, most industry participants will likely view the changes as not going far enough to overcome what some commentators have described as "red tape" impediments on doing business.
CASL regulates more activities and is more prescriptive about what businesses need to do, compared to spam or spyware laws in other jurisdictions. Critics have pointed out that it will impose significant costs on small and large businesses, harm innovation and productivity and place Canadian businesses at a competitive disadvantage.
More pressing for businesses, however, is to get compliance planning into high gear. With less than seven months until most of the law comes into force, virtually all businesses will need to make changes to their operational practices. For a practical summary of where to begin, refer to Our Top 10 Compliance Planning Activities.
Further commentary on the regulations and updated summaries of what CASL means for businesses will be added to our CASL Compliance webpage over the coming days.