Could CASL Be The Worst Thing Yet To Happen To Small Business In Canada?

j0315598On July 1, Canada will become the most recent country in the world to enact strict anti-spam legislation (CASL). What this essentially means is that you will no longer be able to send business oriented emails to people who have not given you permission to do so (in writing). You will not be able to send newsletters or informational emails to anyone on your subscribed list without getting their permission to do so, (in writing). So far, none of this is really what you would call SPAM.

If, on the other hand, you are sending out real spam, and somebody decides to report you  and the government can actually find you, they will send you a ticket for anywhere from 1 million to 10 million dollars. If you are sending spam from outside of Canada, which is probably about 80% of the spam that most people get, well you can keep on doing that shit, because this law is unenforceable outside of Canada.

j0302878A Real Information Gap

I’ve been nosing around in social media and what I’m finding strange is that I am more or less a voice in the wilderness for warning people that this is coming. When I talk to people one on one, almost nobody knows about this, when it is coming into effect, or most importantly, how it will affect their business.

Why people aren’t completely enraged by this legislation is way beyond me. Forcing all Canadian businesses to do a ton of work to get the people already on their email database to  actually give their permission to receive emails, is not just ludicrous, but almost sadistic.

What the end result will be is anybody’s guess, but it’s almost a certainty that any business that markets through email is going to be severely crippled by this law. And any small business that gets reported and fined by the government will almost certainly be put into bankruptcy.

Myself, I don’t really do a lot of email marketing. I prefer something that my son calls “The Power Of The Mouth”, which means I like to talk to people, meet with them, share war stories, show them samples and results. But in this regard I am in the minority.

j0321062Don’t Worry…Be Happy…Yeah Right.

An associate of mine, who allegedly knows a lot about this legislation told me that it probably won’t be as bad as it sounds on the surface (which is pretty freakin’ bad). The advice he’s giving people is not to flaunt your disrespect for it or completely ignore it. As long as you are seen to be making an effort, you’ll be alright.

Well that’s pretty good advice in the abstract. But my concern is for the literally thousands of Canadian businesses who don’t really know anything at all about this legislation, because the government, bless their pointed little heads, has done very little that I can see in terms of disseminating information about this. I only found out about it three weeks ago when someone on Facebook reposted a short article in the Globe and Mail. Since then I have only heard bits and pieces about it and I was on the lookout.

I have a very bad feeling about this law. Not only does it not make much sense in terms of how  it is structured, it feels like a very deliberate attempt to inhibit the growth of both startups and established small businesses in this country. Not saying that’s the actual intent because that would imply something very sisnister and raise serious doubts about our government, but it certainly does feel that way to me and a lot of the people I’ve talked to recently.

Get Up To Speed On This Issue.

If you run or work for a Canadian company and you want to know what the rules are, as they currently stand, (because I can’t see them staying this way for long), you can visit these sites.

http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/casl-lcap.htm

http://soho.ca/index.php/canadas-anti-spam-laws-2/

Oh yeah, and good luck…we’re all gonna need it.

Adendum

JIM MAYI wrote this on Facebook a few days ago as a prelude to this posting. It’s a bit sarcastic, but then again, maybe it’s not.

I’d like to send out a big thank you to Stephen Harper, because when the new anti-spam legislation kicks in on July 1 and small businesses and even larger ones eventually find that their email databases are only a fraction of the size they used to be, because hardly anybody was willing to opt in, he will have succeeded in alienating his largest group yet.

As reality sets in, Canadian businesses will realize that this legislation has transported them back to the days before the Internet, when they had to rely on things like direct mail, advertising and trade shows to make connections and build their business. This in turn will lead them right back to me and my partner Bill Tibbles, among others, who were actually adults during that time and intrinsically understand what makes that kind of ‘old school’ communication work.

The summer will be slow, because that’s the gestation period when people find out just how nasty this new legislation really is. Hopefully not too many business will be foolish enough to carry on as usual and risk the huge fines associated with non-compliance. But then, come the fall, the shit will hit the fan. When it does, Bill and I and a bunch of other ‘old school’ guys will be there to help you get your sales back up to acceptable levels. Yeah, it will cost a little more, compared to email marketing, but think of it as the cost of being risk free and, well, staying in business.

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