First Fine Issued Under Canada’s Anti-Spam Law

March 5, 2015 | Brian J. Curial, Kelly Harris

The CRTC has issued its first notice of violation under CASL and it carries a substantial penalty.  Quebec based Compu-Finder could pay an administrative monetary penalty of $1.1 million for four violations of Canada’s Anti-Spam Law. 

CASL prohibits parties from sending commercial electronic messages (including e-mails) unless the recipient of the message has given express consent or the message falls into one of the exceptions in CASL.  CASL also requires that all commercial electronic messages identify the sender, include the sender’s contact information and provide an unsubscribe mechanism. 

This law came into force July 1, 2014 and there was a flurry of activity at that time by businesses attempting to come into compliance.  However, since that time, there has been little news from the CRTC, with only one investigation published to date (and which did not result in any monetary penalties). The CRTC investigation alleges Compu-Finder sent e-mails to businesses without their consent and which did not offer a functional unsubscribe mechanism. The Compu-Finder e-mails promoted corporate training courses for businesses, often for topics such as management, social media and professional development. 

The alleged violations occurred between July 2, 2014 and September 16, 2014. Compu-Finder was flagged for investigation because it accounted for more than one-quarter of the spam complaints received at the Spam Reporting Centre related to training companies. 

Compu-Finder has 30 days to contest the ruling or pay the $1.1 million. It can also request an undertaking with the CRTC to avoid the financial penalties. This case represents the first time the CRTC has sought to impose a financial penalty under CASL. 

“Compu-Finder flagrantly violated the basic principles of the law by continuing to send unsolicited commercial electronic messages after the law came into force,” said Chief Compliance and Enforcement Officer, Manon Bombardier. “Complaints submitted to the Spam Reporting Centre clearly indicate that consumers didn’t find Compu-Finder’s offerings relevant to them.” 

Miller Thomson has developed a comprehensive CASL compliance program and can provide a wide spectrum of CASL compliance services for your organization from which to choose.  We can also assist in the event that your organization is subject to a CRTC investigation or administrative penalty.  Please do not hesitate to contact any member of our CASL team to help your organization take the steps necessary to mitigate or prevent having significant penalties such as this imposed against your organization.  We have members of our CASL compliance team across Canada and can assist wherever your organization may be.


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