March 30, 2012

This is not legal advice.

I am often asked if a business can take email addresses from the web and add them to their contact list. The legal answer is that I am not a lawyer. But I think the relevant information regarding anti-spam law can be found in two points:
  • What is the intent of the new law? The intent of the new law is to deter the most damaging and deceptive forms of spam from occurring in Canada. from the Government of Canada website.
  • In addition, there are business card and address publication exclusions from the express consent requirement for sending commercial electronic messages to recipients who have published or provided their electronic address without stating they do not wish to receive messages, where the message is relevant to recipients’ business or professional role. from
If a business has published their email address on the web, they are inviting messages relevant to their business. And why wouldn't they? Our clients are often offering their best information for free and are working hard to keep their content interesting and relevant. Newsletters can be a wealth of information and assistance.

If their email address is published on the web with a disclaimer statement saying they do not want to receive unsolicited messages, you do not want to email them. But if you are a small business that wants to put that statement on your contact page, you need to think about THAT.

We would suggest that you:
If unsubscribe is two clicks away, most readers that decide they do not want the material, will simply do that.

That doesn't mean you won't get the odd complaint. You can never control every readers' reaction but the law was put in place to stop malicious and aggressive email messages. There is no intent in the law to stop legitimate electronic commerce in Canada. None of our clients are sending malicious or aggressive email messages and we would never recommend that strategy. If you consider your newsletter to be spam, you need to think about THAT.

Originally published in Work Better, Not Harder on March 29, 2012

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