Since the dawn of email, spam has been a nuisance but also a potential threat to security. Various countries across the globe have brought forward legislation to try and get spam under control but few have made an impact. That changed on July 1, 2014 when Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) went into effect.
Violators of CASL can be fined as much as CAD $10 million, and company officers can be held personally liable if they had a hand in the violation or failed to act reasonably to stop it. It doesn’t matter where an email is sent from, if it arrives in the inbox of a Canadian, geographical limitations do not apply.
The impact is already being felt. A recent report from Cloudmark indicates that marketing officers are taking a cautious approach. Overall email volume sent to Canada has fallen by an estimated 29 percent. While a majority of judgements will never reach true cyber criminals, CASL has impacted how businesses use email and how they protect against misuse of their infrastructure. PlentyofFish and Compu.finder Inc. have already accumulating fines totaling more than $900,000 and the number of companies impacted is expected to grow rapidly.
I don’t expect this law to stop pill scams or offers of millions of dollars from foreign princes. The biggest impact will be on the grey area email marketers who don’t follow best practices. These grey area guys will either reluctantly crawl into the black, be successfully sued, or leave the industry altogether.
It may also result in a change in how other countries treat spam. The success of CASL in the short time it has been in practice demonstrates that governments can improve the situation. Changes to the law can be a slow process but as the evidence continues to roll in, we hope to see more companies and countries taking a stand against spam.