Electronic communication has not only become an essential part of how we do business, but of how we get business. Companies of all sizes use emailing lists, online social networks and texting to help create and sustain customer relationships. But on July 1, 2014, portions of the Electronic Commerce Protection Act come into force that place restrictions on these types of advertising practices. After this date, most individuals and organizations will be prohibited from sending unsolicited emails, texts and other similar electronic messages that promote their products or services. Those businesses that do not comply with this prohibition risk receiving a fine of up to $10,000,000.00.
Under this new regime, a commercial electronic message can only be sent if the sender has obtained the consent of the recipient in a manner deemed acceptable by the statute. In practice this means that businesses will need to develop methods for individuals to opt in and ensure that only those that have opted in receive their advertisements.
Since these new rules may require businesses to drastically change their advertising practices, a transitional period has been included to ensure those businesses that rely on commercial electronic messaging are not unduly affected. During this transitional period a business can assume that the customers, clients, and contacts it sent commercial electronic messages to before July 1, 2014, all consent to receive these messages in the future. However this implied consent will only last until July 1, 2017, and after that date a business will need to have express consent from these individuals in order to continue sending them advertisements. Businesses would be well advised to use this grace period to secure consent from their existing customer bases because doing so after July 1, 2017, may be considerable more difficult.
In addition to restricting the transmission of commercial electronic messages, these new rules require such messages to contain the sender’s contact information and a simple method for the recipient to indicate that he no longer wishes to receive these types of messages from the sender. Consequently businesses may need to revise their existing email and advertising documents to meet these new criteria.
If your businesses promotes itself using commercial electronic messages, or are considering doing so in the future, Stephen Mogdan at Stringam LLP would be happy to assist your company ensure that its online advertising practices comply with this new legislation.