The first penalty under Canada’s fledgling Anti-Spam legislation was just levied and a company was fined over $1 million dollars for breaching the provisions of the Act.

On March 5, 2015, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) issued a Notice of Violation under CASL, the new Canadian Anti-Spam legislation, which includes a penalty of  $1.1 million dollars against a company called Compu-Finder. Compu-Finder was found to have breached a number of provisions of the legislation including sending commercial electronic messages without the recipient’s consent as well as emails in which the unsubscribe mechanisms did not function properly. Compu-Finder has 30 days from March 5 to submit written representations in response to the Notice of Violation or pay the penalty.

Read the Press Release

The new legislation which came into force on July 1, 2014 prohibits the:

  • sending of commercial electronic messages without the recipient’s consent (permission), including messages to email addresses and social networking accounts, and text messages sent to a cell phone;

  • alteration of transmission data in an electronic message which results in the message being delivered to a different destination without express consent;

  • installation of computer programs without the express consent of the owner of the computer system or its agent, such as an authorized employee;

  • use of false or misleading representations online in the promotion of products or services;

  • collection of personal information through accessing a computer system in violation of federal law (e.g. the Criminal Code of Canada); and

  • collection of electronic addresses by the use of computer programs or the use of such addresses, without permission (address harvesting).

The CRTC has a number of other investigations underway relating to similar complaints of violations of the new legislation. The legislation gives the CRTC other remedial powers besides issuing penalties which include restraining orders, preservation demands, notices to produce and warning letters. Citizens of Canada are encouraged by the CRTC to file any complaints they have regarding spam messages to the Spam Reporting Centre. Subsequently, at least three government bodies (the CRTC, the Competition Bureau, and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner) will jointly investigate to assess if any violation has occurred.

The CRTC can levy fines up to $10 million dollars against commercial entities and $1 million dollars against private individuals for violations of the legislation.

For information on compliance and what you can do to avoid becoming the subject of a spam complaint contact Sarah J. Hentschel.