Only 15% of small business owners are fully aware of the new requirements they will face under Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL), and nearly two-thirds have taken no steps to comply, according to a survey conducted this week by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).
CASL, which comes into force July 1st, affects most businesses, including any that send emails, text messages or messages through social media.
“Most small business owners don’t think of themselves as spammers,” said CFIB president Dan Kelly. “But under the new law, everyday interactions with customers and potential customers will be considered spam without a significant investment to document the right permissions.”
Among other changes, the new law will require businesses to seek consent to send business emails, keep a record of those consents, and add an unsubscribe feature to every email message.
The required technological and process changes can be significant for small businesses. As an example, one company was told it will cost them $30,000 to $50,000 to be in full compliance, according to the CFIB.
The organization has received dozens of calls from concerned business owners who are struggling to figure out how to make their businesses viable amid the new regulations. It says it has been disappointed by the support being offered by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), one of the agencies responsible for enforcing CASL.
“Businesses support the idea of reducing spam, but everything we’re hearing suggests that the current rules need to be made small business-friendly,” said Kelly. CFIB members support a focus on education over enforcement, and providing exemptions in certain scenarios, such as businesses which send a relatively low volume of emails per month.
“The government has repeatedly insisted that CASL was designed to go after the worst offenders, and not the general business population,” said CFIB executive vice president Laura Jones. “Small businesses want to comply with the spirit of the law, but implementing the letter of the law will be a challenge. Clearly, more work needs to be done to make CASL work for small business.”
CFIB has prepared tips on implementing CASL for small businesses.