Electronic Messages and Anti-Spam Compliance Procedure

Purpose statement

The Corporation of the Town of Oakville (the town) supports the use of electronic messages to enhance communications with the community and to promote or advertise the town and its programs and services. Recognizing the primary purpose of electronic messages sent by the town is to promote excellent customer service and to be accountable as a governmental authority, this procedure establishes guidelines and standards to highlight the town’s commitment to complying with Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation.

Scope

This procedure applies to electronic messages used to promote or advertise the town and its goods, services or initiatives by Town Council and town employees as well as by volunteers, agents, contractors (personnel) or any individual representing or performing any function on behalf of the town. Due to the nature of municipal government operations, the town has implied consent to send electronic communications to its recipients and will use an unsubscribe function when promoting or advertising the town and its programs, services and initiatives.

This procedure does not apply to:

  • Telephone voice messages, fax, social media posts (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), letters
  • Responding to requests for information, complaints
  • Issuing RFPs, quotes, bids
  • Enforcing a legal right
  • Posting materials to the town’s website(s)
  • Confirming a transaction
  • Employment relationships or benefits plans
  • Personal relationships – direct, voluntary, two-way communication
  • Family relationship – related by marriage, direct, voluntary, two-way communications
  • Between organizations that already have a relationship – where the messages relate to the activities of the organization to which the message is sent
  • Registered charities raising funds
  • Political candidates or organizations soliciting political contributions

Procedure

Criteria for sending an electronic message promoting or advertising the town and its programs, services and initiatives:

  1. A subject line that contains clear and related information to the message
  2. The message must contain:
    a. The name of the sender (Town of Oakville or Oakville Public Library)
    b. A mailing address and a method the recipient can use to obtain more information (phone number, email address or website)
    c. An unsubscribe function that is clearly and prominently displayed that allows recipients to readily withdraw their consent to receive messages
         i. The unsubscribe function must be valid for 60 days
         ii. If unsubscribe is requested by a recipient, it must be processed within 10 business days
  3. Only use a contact list for its intended purpose. If using a mailing/contact list from a closely related town project, the message must include a statement that identifies the reason for the communication with a consent statement and unsubscribe function as outlined in 2 (c).
  4. Maintain records in accordance with the records and retention by-law where express or implied consent to receive electronic messages has been obtained.
  5. Use town templates to send electronic messages that include an automated unsubscribe.

Definitions

Electronic message is any message sent by any means of telecommunication, including email, text, sound, voice or image.

Express consent may be written or oral. Written consent is acceptable if it can be verified, which may include: (opt-in) checking a box on a web page, or filling out a consent form to receive electronic messages at the point of purchase or service. If oral, consent may be verifiable by a third party, there is an audio recording of the consent, or the sender keeps a record confirming the date oral consent was provided by the recipient.

Implied consent is generally found where there is an existing business or non-business relationship, the recipient has disclosed their electronic address to the sender, or the recipient conspicuously published their electronic address.

Existing business relationship is generally where there has been a purchase, barter or contract; or where there has been an inquiry or application in relation to a purchase, barter or contract.

Existing non-business relationship is generally where there has been a donation, gift, volunteer work, attendance at a meeting or membership in a club, association or voluntary organization.

Responsibilities

Departments are responsible for:

  • Being knowledgeable about and complying with Canada’s Antispam Legislation requirements
  • Monitoring their electronic messages, using an unsubscribe mechanism and managing unsubscribe requests, where appropriate
  • Keeping mailing/contact lists up-to-date and using lists for the reason they were intended
  • Communicating unsubscribe or other technology requirements with Information Systems + Solutions

Information Systems is responsible for:

  • Ensuring technology to support unsubscribe requirements and compliance with Canada’s Antispam Legislation requirements

Procedure details

Procedure Number: G-COM-001-006
Parent Policy: G-COM-001
Section: Governance
Sub-Section: Communications
Author: Strategy, Policy and Communications
Authority: CAO
Effective Date: 2015 Nov 16
Review by Date: 2020

References

Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation
Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) regulations
Competition Act
Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act
Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act

G-COM-001-001 Public Engagement procedure
G-COM-001-002 Communications procedure
G-COM-001-003 Translation and Interpretation procedure
G-COM-001-004 Corporate Gift procedure
G-COM-001-005 Customer Service Standards procedure
HR-MNG-006 Employee Code of Conduct policy
G-GEN-006 Code of Conduct for Members of Council and Local Board Members policy
A-ISS-001 Information Technology General Use and Practices Policy
Records and Retention By-law