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News Brief: Regulators Issue First Penalty Under CASL

On March 5, 2015, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) issued a notice of violation (NOV) and a penalty of $1.1 million to Compu-Finder, a Quebec-based business training firm, for four violations of Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL). This marks the first time the CRTC has levied penalties under CASL.

According to the CRTC, Compu-Finder sent commercial electronic messages (CEMs) without recipients’ consent, as required by law, as well as emails in which the unsubscribe mechanisms did not function properly. Under CASL, Canadian and global organizations that send CEMs from or to businesses or individuals in Canada must first obtain consent from recipients.

In a statement, Manon Bombardier, Chief Compliance and Enforcement Officer with the CRTC, said, “Despite the CRTC’s efforts, Compu-Finder flagrantly violated the basic principles of the law by continuing to send unsolicited commercial electronic messages, after the law came into force, to email addresses it found by scouring websites. Complaints submitted to the Spam Reporting Centre clearly indicate that consumers didn’t find Compu-Finder’s offerings relevant to them.”

An analysis of complaints submitted to the Spam Reporting Center indicates that Compu-Finder accounted for 26 per cent of all complaints submitted against companies in the professional training industry. Compu-Finder has 30 days to pay the penalty or submit written representation to the CRTC. It also has the option of requesting an undertaking with the CRTC—a form of settlement under CASL to which the CRTC would have to agree.

Although the penalty of $1.1 million levied against Compu-Finder is below the allowed maximum penalty of $10 million per violation, the size of the penalty is nonetheless significant. It is higher than the majority of penalties that the CRTC has previously issued under other laws. Additionally, the penalty appears to be sizeable enough to have an impact on Compu-Finder’s business operations.

The CRTC also indicated that a number of other investigations into violations of CASL are currently underway; however, no additional NOVs have been made public to date.

Please contact Lloyd Sadd Insurance Brokers Ltd for more information on CASL compliance and for a copy of the CASL Toolkit.
The content of this News Brief is of general interest and is not intended to apply to specific circumstances. It does not purport to be a comprehensive analysis of all matters relevant to its subject matter. The content should not, therefore, be regarded as constituting legal advice and not be relied upon as such. In relation to any particular problem which they may have, readers are advised to seek specific advice. © 2015 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.