If you haven’t heard of the upcoming anti-spam policy coming into affect on July 1, 2014 then you may want to do some catch up in a hurry. The policy is being seen as the toughest legislation to come into affect and promises to bring in fines ranging from $1,000,000 to $10,000,000 for noncompliance. This initiative is to deter companies from sending spam to people or installing computer programs without consent. How this will all play out is anyone’s guess, but there is a fear on the technology industry that the small business owner will get caught accidentally without knowing the law. The industry experts are hoping the CRTC will go after the bigger spammers on the Internet.
So what do you need to know if you send out electronic communications? There are three steps to the program. The first step is that you need to have EXPRESS or IMPLIED consent from the recipient before sending out any electronic communications. The onus will be on the sender to prove they have consent from a recipient and when that consent took place should they be audited. Implied consent would be something like you have done business with that person before or you are a member of a club and the club sends you information that only goes out to members. The second piece of the program is showing people who is really behind the communication. Recipients need to know the name and location of the sender and it must be clearly visible. There are some exceptions for those that work from home. The third piece of the legislation has been around for a while, you need to have a way for subscribers to unsubscribe. There are exemptions for those that have a personal relations ships or businesses that have an existing relationship with their clients. There is a two year exemption available for consent in those areas.
So what should you do? If you are sending out electronic communications to a current list before July 1st, 2014 you should send out some type of form asking people for their consent or to unsubscribe from your mailing list. You will have to keep records for consent and many of the large email programs will do that record keeping for you, but if you are using your own email program to send out communications that may be a harder problem. Many businesses are worried that they may lose subscribers, but if people don’t want the communications they probably weren’t reading the communication anyway. If you are following good business practices then I don’t think you should have much to worry about, but if you are in the habit of grabbing business cards to cold call people or add them to lists you may want to change your tactics. How this will affect the whole social media industry is yet to be seen, but the best thing is to work on protecting yourself and your business. To learn more about the legislation and have many of the questions you may have answered I suggest visiting the CRTC website.
About the Author
Bruce Outridge is an entrepreneur and author of the books Driven to Drive, Running by the Mile, and How to Start an Artistic Business in 12 Easy Steps. For more information on Bruce or to read articles for your business please visit his website at www.outridgeenterprises.ca