$1.1 Million Penalty Issued Under Canada’s Anti-Spam Law

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced today that it has issued a Notice of Violation to Quebec-based business Compu-Finder for four alleged violations of Canada’s anti-spam legislation (CASL).

This is the first penalty issued by the CRTC under CASL, which came into force just last year and regulates the sending of commercial electronic messages and the installation of computer programs.  The CRTC investigation found that Compu-Finder did not have consent to send commercial emails promoting various management and professional development training courses to businesses, and also that the unsubscribe mechanisms in the emails did not function as required. Complaints against the company account for over a quarter of all complaints submitted to the CRTC’s Spam Reporting Centre for this industry sector.

In a statement, Manon Bombardier, Chief Compliance and Enforcement Officer, CRTC, critiqued the company for “flagrantly” violating the law and indicated that by issuing this Notice of Violation “[his] goal is to encourage a change of behaviour on the part of Compu-Finder such that it adapts its business practices to the modern reality of electronic commerce and the requirements of the anti-spam law. We take violations to the law very seriously and expect businesses to be in compliance.”

The company has 30 days to submit written representations to the CRTC or pay the penalty. The company also has the option to request to enter into an undertaking with the CRTC, which may require the company to pay monetary penalties and take corrective measures.

A previous CRTC compliance effort under CASL did not result in penalties. In October 2014, the CRTC announced that it had collaborated with a Saskatchewan-based business to stop spam from being sent from its servers that had been compromised and infected with malware. The CRTC also indicated at that time that a number of other investigations related to CASL compliance were underway. Additional enforcement efforts may be on the horizon.