Canadian regulations for commercial SMS messages

Canada’s anti-spam legislation (CASL) was issued by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. It aims to protect Canadian consumers and allow organizations (businesses, not-for-profits, and charities) to compete in the market. CASL defines e-marketing messages as commercial electronic messages that promote or market your company, products, and services. This definition includes SMS messaging.

Important requirements To send messages, you must agree.

Two types of consent should be considered. If there is an existing business relationship (for corporations) or non-business relationship, the recipient can expect to be sent an SMS message by your organization. Implied consent can be limited in time, usually for two years from the date the relationship was established (e.g., Purchase of a good Subscription and memberships begin on the date the relationship ends. If the recipient gives express consent, there’s no time limit, except that they withdraw their support. A recipient has given your organization either positive or explicit consent to receive SMS messages. Keep records of how your organization obtained implied consent or explicit consent. In both cases, the organization is responsible for proving consent. These records should include information about whether permission was given in writing or orally, the reason for it, and how it was obtained (i.e., The opt-in process in which it was obtained.

Information to be included with SMS messages

Include contact information and identify the sender of the message. You can include contact information as a URL link, but it must be prominently displayed in your SMS message.

Unsubscribe

SMS messages must contain an unsubscribe function. A “readily executed” unsubscribe mechanism is required. “i.e., It should be easy, quick, and simple. Promotional messages should allow the recipient to reply with “STOP” or unsubscribe. Click a link to take them to adopt-that allows them to opt-out of receiving SMS messages.

Additional information and links to regulations

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission offers several resources that will help you ensure your SMS messaging conforms to regulations.

  • Canada’s Anti-Spam Law, information resource
  • CASL – Telecom Regulatory Policy CRTC2012-183
  • Video: A summary of CASL. View it on Youtube
  • CASL Checklist to ensure regulatory compliance
  • CASL FAQs on Canada’s Anti-Spam Law
  • CASL: Infographic explanation of Implied Competition and Express Consent
  • CASL- An example of an SMS marketing message that includes contact and organizational details, as well as the unsubscribe (opt-out) information

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