Canada's anti-spam legislation (CASL) protects consumers and businesses from the misuse of digital technology, including spam and other electronic threats. It also aims to help businesses stay competitive in a global, digital marketplace. Learn about the legislation as well as how to protect yourself from spam and how to report it when necessary.
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Spam has become a significant social and economic burden in Canada and around the world. The simplest definition of spam is unsolicited email, though it can also include unsolicited text messages and software.
The legal definition of spam also encompasses:
CASL focuses on commercial electronic messages, which are those that encourage participation in a commercial activity whether or not there is an expectation of profit.
CASL was created in 2014 to reinforce best practices in email marketing and combat spam and related issues. These issues include identity theft, phishing and the spread of malicious software, such as viruses, worms and trojans (malware). The legislation has made a positive difference. When CASL took effect in 2014, Canada was home to 7 of the world's top 100 spamming organizations. By 2017, there were only 2.
Canadians made more than 137,000 complaints to the Spam Reporting Centre between April 1 and September 30, 2018—more than 5,000 per week. Email sent without consent was the top reason for these complaints, but spam in the form of text messages is also on the rise. These figures show that CASL is an increasingly important tool for Canadians.
Since its inception, CASL has resulted in improvements for both consumers and businesses. In terms of consumers:
Meanwhile, for businesses:
The legislation has also enabled Canada to actively share information and cooperate in global enforcement actions. Canada now has international agreements with 4 countries and memorandums of understanding with 12 agencies in 8 countries.
Note: The information on this website is intended to provide a plain language explanation of some aspects of the legislation. It is not to be considered as legal advice, an interpretation of any legislation or regulations, or as a settlement or commitment on behalf of the Enforcement Agencies for CASL.