How Canada’s anti-spam legislation helps Canadians

Learn how Canada’s anti-spam legislation (CASL) benefits you.

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CASL helps Canadians understand spam and their rights

Since 2014, Canadians have reported more than a million cases of spam to the Spam Reporting Centre. This tells us that the legislation is helping Canadians understand and exercise their rights when it comes to spam.

From July 2014 to December 2017 Canadians’ most common reasons for reporting spam were:

  • There were deceptive marketing practices
  • They had not consented to receiving the messages
  • There were absent, invalid or misleading identification issues in the messages

Visit Enforcing CASL on the CRTC website for more details about the number of and nature of complaints submitted to the Spam Reporting Centre.

CASL helps you control what happens on your electronic devices

The purpose of CASL is to strengthen the Canadian economy by regulating commercial conduct that could discourage people from carrying out business electronically. Such conduct could lead to additional costs, compromise privacy and undermine confidence in electronic communications. Reducing the amount of spam Canadians receive—as well as their likelihood of receiving threats like malware and spyware—contributes to this purpose.

CASL also enables Canadians to make more informed decisions about what is installed on their computers, tablets and phones. For example, the installer must make it clear to you if a computer program is meant to:

  • collect your personal information
    • example: using your phone's GPS to track its location
  • interfere with your control of the device
    • example: preventing you from using Wi-Fi on your mobile phone
  • change or interfere with settings, preferences or commands without your knowledge
    • example: changing the default web browser
  • change or interfere with the data stored on the device in a way that obstructs your ability to use it
    • example: encrypting data on a computer so you can't access it
  • cause the operating system to connect to other systems without your permission
    • example: automatically sending out email messages to your contacts
  • install a program that a third party can activate without your knowledge.

For more detailed information, see:

By requiring software providers to get permission to install programs and updates, CASL helps protect consumers and businesses from hackers and other cyber criminals who install malicious computer programs that steal sensitive information. It also gives them control over their devices. Programs can’t be automatically updated without their knowledge and consent.

CASL reduces spam and helps to reduce online threats

The legislation can’t eliminate all spam and other electronic threats. But it’s helping to deter the most damaging and deceptive activities, such as phishing, computer viruses, botnets and the spread of malware. All of these can lead to serious issues for Canadians—such as unauthorized accessing of their sensitive information and being targeted for identity theft. Identity theft is when someone impersonates you and uses your private information, usually for financial gain.

CASL also equips Canadian enforcement agencies to address violations in Canada and to work with international partners to fight spammers operating abroad.

CASL applies to spam coming from other countries

Spam being sent into Canada (whether through commercial electronic messages, malware, software or altered transmission of data) is subject to CASL no matter what country it comes from. CASL gives enforcement agencies the authority to share, at an international level, any information that may be relevant to an investigation or proceeding with respect to contraventions under the legislation. This information sharing allows enforcement agencies to work in conjunction with their international counterparts to track and prevent the creation and distribution of spam.