April 25, 2018

CASL goes global.


Canada’s anti-spam law (CASL) announced their first international “undertaking,” or violation of their legislation with an agreed-upon remedy. Ancestry Ireland Unlimited Company, which is Ancestry’s international HQ, violated Subsection 3(2) of the Electronic Commerce Protection Regulations (CRTC) (CRTC Regulations), which “stipulates that the unsubscribe mechanism set out in paragraph 6(2)(c) of the Act must be able to be readily performed.”

The real issue is the fact Ancestry sends two distinct kinds of promotional email messages to the individuals on their list. CASL clearly states a user should be able to unsubscribe to ALL emails sent by an organization with “just one operation,” meaning a sender who requires an opt-out from multiple lists with the use of multiple unsubscribe buttons is in violation. Since Ancestry did not allow Canadian users to click “Unsubscribe” and then opt out of BOTH promotional email distributions, they fouled out.

This is important because this is the first time CASL has filed an undertaking against a company outside Canada’s borders, further stressing that anti-spam legislation like CASL and the looming GDPR does not only impact senders operating within the physical jurisdiction. Remember, if your recipients reside in areas with strict guidelines for email communication, you need to be compliant according to their rules, not only the rules of the country in which you operate.

Ancestry did not commit a mass spamming or anything of the like, so they were not penalized with monetary fines, and they agreed to comply fully with all CASL legislation moving forward. They’ll do this by reviewing their current practice, develop and use new policies aimed at compliance, employee training, complaint follow-up and more. At the end of this process, Ancestry should be compliant with CASL, their recipients should have a more seamless unsubscribe process, and CASL has successfully weeded out poor email practice as intended.

Remember, if you align with email best practices for interaction, recipient satisfaction, list cleanliness, reputation and so on, not only will your email programs be more successful, you’ll avoid an undertaking like this in the future.

And if you need any help getting your email right, hit us up.

Author: Matt Vernhout

Matthew Vernhout is a digital messaging industry veteran and Certified International Privacy Professional (CIPP) with more than a decade of experience in email marketing. Matt is 250ok’s Director of Privacy, and he is currently the Vice Chair of the eec, after serving for several years as the Chair of their Advocacy Subcommittee.

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