As of July 1, 2014, it is illegal in Canada to send a CEM (Commercial Electronic Message) to a person outside of an organization without their approval to do so. This new law is intended to enhance the use of the Internet for commercial use by reducing the amount of spam being circulated. It has been very normal for schools to use email to inform parents of things like hot dog, yearbook, photo sales, field trips that cost money, and post-secondary programs to name but a few, and this type of message will no longer be permitted without prior permission.
Our potential responses to this law are somewhat limited. We can stop sending this type of information home, we can send it via hard copy only, or we can work to gain explicit permission to send home CEM’s to our parents through the use of permission forms. Our schools began this process during the 2014 start-up.
Permission to send a CEM may be gained verbally, but it is recommended that we use a hard copy form, where parents give clear permission for the school and district. We have added an additional signature line for school and district PAC’s because these organizations are distinct from us and parents should be given the option to give permission to one organization but not the other. Schools will then have to keep a record of who has given permission and only send CEM’s to the approved list. The practice of sending email to the full parent list may continue in some schools, but these emails may not contain CEMs. This will constitute an important and somewhat complicated change to practice.
Principals were informed of this change in June 2014, and some information was shared with them at that time. They were then informed in more detail of what the law involves and what they need to do to uphold it in our summer meeting, and the new permission form template was distributed. We ask for everyone’s cooperation and patience with this process as we work to integrate it into our school culture.
If you have any further questions, I encourage you to talk to your school principal, or contact me at the School Board Office.
Director of Instruction (Technology and Innovation)
School District No.48 (Sea to Sky)