Canada's Anti-Spam Law (CASL) came into effect on July 1, 2014. It is described as the most comprehensive anti-spam law in the world, protecting you from unwanted, unsolicited electronic messages. Texts, tweets, Facebook posts and emails all fall under its purview.

In fact, CASL and its regulations will apply to any electronic message sent in connection with a "commercial activity," even if it is sent without the expectation of making a profit.

Consent is a key feature of CASL. According to the law, Canadian and global organizations that send commercial electronic messages (CEMs) within, from, or to Canadians need the permission of their recipients to send those messages.


What is a CEM?

A CEM encourages participation in a commercial activity by sending messages through an electronic medium such as, but not limited to, email, text message or social media.

The content of the message may include the following:

  • Offers to purchase or sell goods and products
  • Offers to provide a business, investment or gaming opportunity
  • Advertisements and promotions


Forms of communication

  • E-Mail
  • SMS / Text Messaging
  • Direct Messaging on any service (including Social Media)


Requirements to send a CEM

  • There are three general requirements for sending the CEM to an electronic address:
  • Consent
  • Identification information
  • An unsubscribe mechanism

Examples of CEMs

  • Offers to purchase, sell, barter or lease a product, goods, a service, land or an interest or right in land
  • Offers to provide a business, investment or gaming opportunity
  • Promoting a person, including the public image of a person, as being a person who does anything referred to above, or who intends to do so


Obtaining Consent

Consent can be obtained either in writing or orally. In either case, the onus is on the person or business who is sending the message to prove they have obtained consent to send the message.

Consent obtained orally

The following forms are sufficient to discharge the onus of demonstrating oral consent:

  • Where oral consent can be verified by an independent third party
  • Where a complete and unedited audio recording of the consent is retained by the person seeking consent or a client of the person seeking consent

For example, a person may request and obtain oral consent in situations where information is collected over the phone (e.g. call centres) or consent may be given at the time that individuals use a product or service (e.g. point of sale purchases).

Consent obtained “in writing”

Includes both paper and electronic forms of writing

Examples of acceptable means of obtaining consent in writing include:

  • Checking a box on a web page to indicate consent where a record of the date, time, purpose, and manner of that consent is stored in a database
  • Filling out a consent form at a point of purchase




CPA members can contact our partner Gowlings for further questions regarding CASL.