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A Better Partnership


Oct 2014
October 28, 2014

Companies can now be fined in Canada for texting unsolicited marketing materials

If your company sends text or email marketing messages to Canadian residents it now faces a new, stringent Canadian anti-spam law. The law prohibits unsolicited “electronic messages” to computers and phones in Canada, and carries large fines for non-compliance.

Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (“CASL”) took effect July 1, 2014. It prohibits sending, causing or permitting an “unsolicited electronic message” to be sent to a Canadian resident unless the recipient has consented to receiving the message; this includes text messages. Further, the message must include: (1) the name and contact information of the sender, or the person on behalf of whom the message was sent; and (2) a mechanism for unsubscribing from future communications allowing the recipient to unsubscribe at no cost and via the same means by which the sender sent the message.  Canada’s new “opt-in” model will differ significantly from the United States’ opt-out model, and being outside of Canada will not shield your company from liability: it applies extraterritorially.

Organizations and individuals who violate CASL may face significant administrative fines – up to $1 million for an individual and up to $10 million for an organization – and starting in July 2017 organizations and individuals are subject to private lawsuits under CASL. Given the potential fines involved with violations, U.S. companies that operate under the more permissive Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing (“CAN-SPAM”) Act of 2003 or the Telephone Consumer Protection Act will want to ensure they are compliant with CASL before it becomes effective.

Overall, Canada’s new opt-in consent requirement has the potential to significantly impair the ability of U.S. companies to send promotional text messages to Canadian customers. It will also require greater care with other electronic communications with Canadian residents.

If you have questions, please contact Jay Yelton (269.276.8130 or, Dawn Ward (616.396.3039 or or Anissa Hudy (248.784.5133 or

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