Canadian Short Codes – Compliance and Regulations Compliance and Carrier Requirements
|MO Opt-out||MO opt-out – marketing and subscription campaign messages must add opt-out instructions to a a short code at the end of the message. – MO keywords STOP and ARRET must be supported for opt-out.|
|MO Help||The MO keywords HELP and AIDE must be supported.|
|Marketing message restrictions||Marketing messages may only be sent to users who explicitly consent to receive marketing messages. Marketing messages may only be sent during normal business hours.|
|Transactional message restrictions||Transactional messages may only be sent to users who have a current business relationship with the content provider. Also, the messages must be transactional in nature e.g. account alerts.|
|Content restrictions||Messages that contain or imply sexual, criminal or derogatory content are not allowed.|
|Sender ID Pre-Registration|
|Do Not Call List|
|Other restrictions||All short codes must support the five mandatory MO keywords: HELP, AIDE, STOP, ARRET, and INFO|
- (1) The end user must explicitly consent to receive marketing messages and (2) the terms of the marketing campaign must be explicitly conveyed to the user before he or she opts in.
- Marketing messages must add opt-out instructions with a short code or long code at the end of the message e.g. ‘STOP to 3986’
- A current business relationship with an end user is required to send transactional messages.
- A current business relationship does not authorize the sending of marketing messages. A separate and explicit consent is required to send marketing messages.
- Transactional messages must add opt-out instructions with a short code or long code at the end of the message e.g. ‘STOP to 3986’
- All short codes must support the five mandatory MO keywords: HELP, AIDE, STOP, ARRET, and INFO
- MO keywords must be available in all programs without exception; whether the consumer is subscribed to the program or not
- MO keywords must be written in CAPITAL LETTERS at all times in messaging and all advertising to emphasize their importance;
- MO keywords must also be available in both English and French regardless of the intended audience. However, if a program is solely promoted in one language, it is acceptable that the messaging for all five Mandatory Keywords be in the language in which the program is promoted;
- MT Messages sent to a user in response to an MO keyword should be delivered free of charge where possible as they are administrative in nature;
- In the event that a single Short Code is running services for multiple clients, it is the Content Provider’s responsibility to provide details for the INFO, HELP and AIDE MO
- HELP MT: The following information must be included by the Content Provider in one (1) MT message:
- Customer service contact information (email and/or URL and/or phone). NOTE: if the phone number is the exclusive method of contact, then it must be toll-free;
- Cost and message frequency of the program;
- Opt-out information using STOP;
- Identity of the program sponsor by name or company name (a program sponsor is defined as the company promoting the service) and a short description of the program;
- The HELP message may also include a list of common keywords and a description on how to use the service.
- AIDE MT: This keyword will return the same information as HELP but the one (1) MT response should be in French.
- STOP MT: Whenever STOP is sent as a keyword in an MO message, the Content Provider must:
- For subscription services, send one (1) MT message stating that the consumer will no longer receive messages in connection to all services running on the Short Code;
- For non-subscription services (one-time use), send one (1) MT message stating that the service is not a subscription and stop sending messages of any kind to that consumer until/unless the consumer initiates the service again.
- Additionally, the STOP keyword:
- Must apply to all programs including one-time use programs.
- Must opt-out the consumer immediately. Therefore please note that a response containing a “Stop Menu” of programs is not permitted. The subscriber must be unsubscribed to all programs once the keyword STOP is sent to the Short Code. The program can support other opt-out keywords such as ALERTS STOPor SPORTS STOP however the specific STOP function must be available to stop all contact in any manner. This is to avoid subscriber confusion around the use of the STOP
- The keyword STOP ALLalthough not a Canadian mandatory keyword should be active and function exactly the same as STOP on all programs.
- Must always be available regardless of whether the program is commercially available or not. An error message is not to be sent back to the subscriber.
- ARRET MT: This keyword will return the same information and have the same effect as STOP but the one (1) MT response should be in French.
- INFO MT: The following information must be included by the Content Provider in one (1) MT message:
- The Content Provider’s (or Aggregator’s) company name and customer service contact information (email, URL and/or phone);
- Applicants may refer to the HELP/AIDEand STOP/ARRET Applicants can also include various opt-out methods (e.g. ALERTS STOP).
- Content Providers must obtain approval from consumers before sending SMS messages. Consumers can initiate opt-in in response to a CTA by:
- Sending a Mobile Originated (MO) message from their handset,
- Signing up via a WAP interface,
- Signing up online,
- Signing up via a manually entered opt-in (Content Provider manually enters MIN provided by consumer; e.g. MIN provided on paper application),
- Signing up via spoken opt-in (e.g. MIN provided to a call center representative).
- All web-based opt-ins require a handset verifier, regardless of price point and message frequency. The handset verifier allows the Content Provider to positively confirm that the authorized account holder of the handset is acknowledging the opt-in. This can be done by the consumer inputting a PIN online that is sent to the MIN via MT or by the consumer replying to the MT message with a specific keyword. This PIN or keyword message must include the program pricing and terms.
- In addition, for manually entered opt-ins and spoken opt-ins, it is expected that there may be a time delay from the time the consumer provides their MIN to the Content Provider, to the time the consumer receives the mandatory handset verifier. It is recommended that this time delay does not exceed 30 days.
- A handset verifier is required for non-premium subscription programs with a web-based opt-in, regardless of price point and message frequency. The handset verifier allows the Content Provider to positively confirm that the authorized subscriber is acknowledging the opt-in. This can be done by the consumer inputting online a PIN sent via MT to their mobile phone number or by the consumer replying to an MT message with a specific keyword. This PIN or keyword message must include the program pricing and terms. Please note that the handset verifier is not required to deliver the same content as what is required in the mandatory double opt-in for premium subscriptions.
- Acceptable responses for a handset verifier include, but are not limited to: Yes, Y, Go, Okay, OK, K, K., Sure, Yep, Yeah
- For campaigns that are not currently active, a dormant message should be sent to any consumer who texts to the short code. This message should state that the campaign is not currently active and customer support information.
- English txt example: This program is over. Please check www.abcde.ca for more details. Thx 4 ur txt.
- French txt example: Programme terminé. Voir www.abcde.ca pour plus d’info. Merci.
- Bilingual txt example: This program is over. Programme terminé. Check/Voir www.abcde.ca for details/pour plus d’info. Thx/merci.
- A subscription service is any program which begins with a voluntary opt-in process whereby standard rate charges are incurred by the consumer for messages received from the subscription service over time. Content Providers must obtain approval from subscribers before sending commercial SMS messages.
- Free to consumer subscription programs require a single opt-in.
- Standard rate subscription programs require a single opt-in.
- A monthly reminder message is a notice of continuation of the subscription service.
- The monthly subscription reminder message must contain:
- The name of the service;
- Statement that the service is a subscription service;/p>
- Advice of charge: Std msg & data rates may apply
- Instructions on how to stop the service using the STOP keyword (at a minimum)
- Customer service contact information (email and/or URL and/or phone). NOTE: if the phone number is the exclusive method of contact, then it must be toll-free.
- The subscription reminder must occur at least once on a monthly basis. These subscription reminders do not require an affirmative action by a subscriber to confirm renewal. All monthly subscription reminder messages should be delivered free of charge where possible as they are administrative in nature. This information may be supplied in other program-related messaging but should coincide with the subscription anniversary.
- Telecommunications in Canada are regulated by the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA): https://www.cwta.ca/home
- Official guidelines for SMS messages and short codes are provided by the Canadian Common Short Code Applications Guidelines
- Important notice(page 17, section IV of CCSC Application Guidelines): “As it relates to Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL), all CSC program Applicants, Content Providers and Aggregators are responsible for ensuring that any Commercial Electronic Messages (CEM) they send, or cause or permit to be sent, using a CSC fully comply with the requirements of CASL.”
- Promotions and Advertisement
- When promoting a Short Code program, Content Providers should ensure that the advertising is clear and conspicuous regarding all terms and conditions associated with participating in the program. At all times, the holder of the Short Code must inform consumers of the cost of sending and/or receiving a text message to the Short Code. No program should be promoted as being free unless it can genuinely be acquired for free by any consumer.
- Should SMS services be offered to customers in exchange for or in advance of getting to other content, such as in the case of legitimate marketing incentives, it should be clear to the consumer on the MIN entry pages what they are signing up for and at what costs, as specified below. The legitimate marketing incentive must be presented fairly and must not be misconstrued as being something other than what it is (e.g. a licensed movie trailer instead of a movie).
- At a minimum the following information must be disclosed in all forms of advertised calls-to-action (CTA):
- If a service costs the consumer a standard rate message fee, then it is acceptable to disclose that standard rates apply using “Std rates may apply”. Alternatively Content Providers who choose to utilize “Std msg & Data rates may apply” will be considered acceptable.
- In cases where the consumer receives an MT containing a clickable link to a site accessible on the consumer’s mobile phone, messaging must additionally state that “Data rates may apply.” Content Providers who choose to use “Std msg & data rates may apply” will be considered acceptable.
- It should be noted that any MT message containing a subsequent CTA should fully disclose the incremental cost for further participation.
- Content Providers/Aggregators are encouraged to use less text savvy language when disclosing the pricing terms, message frequency and opt-out information. This is applicable to all CTA disclosures, the abbreviated Terms and Conditions of participation in the service and the double opt-in message.
- Content Providers/Aggregators should be aware that content that they control within text messages may appear as emoticons on handsets that support enhanced messaging. (e.g. if a message contains “:S”, “:STOP” may appear as “TOP”)
- When advertising online (including the mobile web), at a minimum, the following information must also be disclosed:
- If the signup process requires the consumer to visit multiple web pages, the cost for participating in the program must be clearly included on all pages throughout the signup process (from first contact page to last contact page including pages in between that are not requesting consumer registration information).
- CTAs should not contain language or utilize tools (e.g. a countdown clock) that convey a sense of urgency about an offer or service.
- The consumer’s MIN cannot be pre-populated in data entry fields.
- The Content Provider must own and control the MIN entry page for all subscription online registrations.
- Summary terms and conditions must be completely visible (above the fold at screen resolution 1024×768 for Internet Explorer 8) and not automatically pre-checked in cases where a consumer is asked to accept the terms (applicable to CTAs meant for computers only).
- Pricing terms on CTAs meant for the mobile web must be disclosed above the “Buy” (Accept, Purchase, Subscribe, etc.) button.
- For additional requirements that apply to TV, Contests, and M-Commerce, please see the latest Canadian Common Short Code Application Guidelines document for further details.