You’ve probably already heard the news.Maybe it was in your Twitter feed, or on LinkedIn, or even gossip around the water cooler this morning: CASL’s Private Right of Action is (temporarily) dead.
The announcement triggered a collective sigh of relief from marketers in North America and beyond, even eliciting a happy dance or two.
— Wes Quintin (@WesQuintin) June 8, 2017
But what does this announcement actually mean? Matt Vernhout of EmailKarma details the next steps, which include a parliamentary review of the CASL provisions and a pronouncement of the new effective date.
It’s possible the legislation could remain unchanged and simply take effect at a later date, but that seems unlikely given the concerns raised by the industry in response to the pending provisions. Per Return Path, some of the key concerns included:
- potentially bankrupting small and medium-sized businesses (due to the legal costs of defending a class action)
- inordinate court time and court resources being devoted to frivolous claims
- litigation counsel receiving a disproportionate share of damage awards (or settlements), and
- negative impact to consumers where businesses (both foreign and domestic) avoid electronic communication, delay the introduction of software technologies, and pass along the cost of PRAsettlements or rulings in the pricing of consumer goods
For the past 3 years, we’ve been hearing opponents of CASL voice many of these concerns, and it appears their cries have finally made it to the ears of the Canadian government. Unfortunately it’s still too early to tell if this is a full-on reprieve or merely a temporary stay of execution.
With the deadline looming so closely, it’s likely most senders have already double- or triple-checked their compliance processes. If you fall into that camp, stay the course. Even without the PRA, the CRTC can and has levied hefty fines against CASL violators, so making sure your processes are airtight can only help minimize your risk.
Based on my interactions with senders, there are many who haven’t completed their compliance efforts. If you’re one of those who was still scrambling to beat the deadline, don’t lose that head of steam. The delay of the PRA provides a bit of breathing room, but if you’re not 100% sure you’re compliant the risk of complaints and fines isn’t going away anytime soon.