July 1st will mark the first anniversary of Canada’s anti-spam legislation (CASL). We took the opportunity to survey our clientele to gain a better understanding of how the law affects Canadian businesses.

The infographic below illustrates the survey results and provides an overview of activities post-CASL.

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Given that more than 310,000 spam-related complaints have been filed in Canada, the CASL clearly has a purpose. The Cloudmark study shows a 37% reduction of Canadian-based spam over the past year, proving that the anti-spam legislation has been effective.

However, our survey found that the CASL has impeded the competitiveness of homegrown businesses. In reality, it’s not the law itself that’s harming businesses, it’s not understanding the law fully that is creating a problem.

More than 60% of respondents believe that the CRTC has failed to provide SMEs with adequate information about the legislation. Despite a round of information sessions, businesses still lack guidance on how to comply with the law.

Furthermore, the legislation is so complex that even legal experts disagree with the interpretation of certain parts. Hence, the message conveyed to companies is often inconsistent. To make matters worse, fines of up to $10 million can be imposed. Subsequently this has created the perfect scenario to discourage and frighten SMEs. 10% of the businesses surveyed have stopped sending commercial emails altogether, and another 30% have trimmed their mailing lists.

Given that email is not only the most effective, but also the least costly marketing tool, it seems absurd to deprive businesses of it. The shroud of uncertainty surrounding the CASL has prompted many companies to cut down on—or even cut out—the use of email as part of their marketing strategy. 39% of the businesses surveyed claimed that the CASL has restricted their marketing activities.

The truth of the matter is that it’s entirely possible for businesses to continue sending commercial emails, provided they follow good practices. It is on this point that the CRTC’s efforts have has fallen short. For our part, we at Cyberimpact have offered several webinars on various CASL-related topics, and they have proven to be very useful.

On a final note, 48% of businesses said that the CASL has thwarted their ability to compete with their U.S. counterparts. Many of them falsely believe that U.S. companies are not subject to the CASL, which goes to show that the CRTC did not properly disseminate information on this subject.

To summarize, while the CASL has been effective, it has reduced the competitiveness of Canadian businesses. A great deal of work remains to be done in terms of educating them on the proper practices of commercial emails and remaining in compliance with the anti-spam law.

What about you? How has the CASL impacted your business?