CASL Causes Spam

Here’s the amusing thing I’ve run into with the new Canada Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL).  I have received more unsolicited emails (spam) in the past week than I have in the previous twelve months because of CASL.  More specifically because people do not know how to use their email clients correctly.

Mistakes happen but in this new era of CASL certain mistakes could cost you one million dollars and your company ten million dollars!  Here’s the scenario that has been hitting me.

Someone sends an email to their entire list of contacts asking them to opt in.  Several of those people clicked Reply All in order to respond so myself and everyone on the list received their response.

Now, I’ve never given those people permission to email me so that could be interpreted as spam and subject them to the new CASL and it’s massive penalties.  Imagine paying one million dollars because you either don’t know the difference between two icons or you hit the wrong one by mistake.

How To Reply To Email 101

You have two options to reply to email messages:  Reply and Reply All.  

If there is only one recipient Reply All will do the job, but it’s a bad habit to get into.  If (and only if) the group message requires your answer to be read by the entire group use Reply All.

If your answer is for the sender only, use Reply.

If you Reply All you risk angering the people on that list who may be in a position to report you as a spammer.

Also, you’ve now sent a “permission to email me” message to a bunch of businesses you don’t know.  So if you start getting commercial emails from them you may not be able to complain because, let’s face it, you gave them permission to email you when you clicked Reply All.

If you do this because you honestly don’t know the difference between the two buttons (or don’t care) ask yourself this question:  is it worth one million dollars to learn?

As I mentioned earlier, sometimes you click Reply All by mistake.  I’ve done it a time or two myself (but always caught it before hitting Send).  It’s easy to do.  Most programs put the two buttons side by side on the tool bar.  Most of those icons are visually similar to each other.  If you’re tired or in a hurry, you might miss your aim and click the wrong button.  Of course, seeing your TO: field flooded with email addresses should tell you that you made the wrong choice.

How to avoid hitting the wrong button?  Most email clients give you the option to customize your tool bar.  Either move the Reply All button way off to the right end of the bar or, better yet, take it off the tool bar completely.  If it isn’t there, you can’t click it by mistake.  If you need to Reply All to a group message, you can still do that through the Message menu.  When you have to go to your menu to Reply All, it won’t be an accident any longer.

How To Send Email 101

My in box being flooded by these accidental spams is the fault of the sender as much as the people who clicked Reply All.

When sending emails to people you have three choices:  To, CC and BCC.

The fastest way to put all of your friends, family and business associates on someone’s spamming list is to advertise their email address.  You can do this by putting a list of email addresses in the TO: field, where everyone is free to copy them down and use them.

TO: is the field you use when sending an email to one recipient.

CC: is a leftover from the typewriter era.  It means “carbon copy” and would alert the recipient of the letter to the fact that someone else received a copy of it.  The CC: field in an email client is where you list additional recipients of your message.  But that still leaves the email addresses in plain sight.

BCC: means Blind Carbon Copy.  Any addresses you put in this field cannot be seen by anyone but the sender, therefore they cannot be copied and spammed.

More importantly, when some of the people on your list click Reply All, if the list is in BCC: the program will only send a reply to you, the Sender.  If the list of addresses is in the CC: or TO: field, everyone will get the response.  Although CASL does not mention this problem specifically, it wouldn’t surprise me to have someone accuse the Sender of being the cause of the spam because they didn’t use the BCC: field.  The court may not uphold that complaint but do you want to be the guinea pig who gets to test the legislation?

Therefore, if you mail 50 people all at once but only want those people to reply to you, put the addresses in the BCC: field.  Put your own email address in the TO: field.

If you are sending a message to a group and everyone is expected to reply to the entire group, then put the list in the TO: or CC: field.

It is worth everyone’s time and effort to adopt these simple practices into their use of an email program.  Otherwise, under the new CAS legislation you may incur huge fines.

© Rigel Chiokis 2012 - 2017