No Messing Around - $1.1M First Penalty for Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) Violations by Compu-Finder
March 6, 2015
By Trent Skanes, Partner at McInnes Cooper,
David Fraser, Privacy Lawyer | Partner at McInnes Cooper
On March 5, 2015, the Canadian Radio and Television Commission (the CRTC, the main agency charged with administering and enforcing most of CASL) handed out its first penalty under Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL): a $1.1 million administrative monetary penalty to Compu-Finder. The penalty makes it clear that when it comes to CASL violations, the CRTC won’t mess around – and neither should those subject to it.
The Violations. Compu-Finder is primarily a business-to-business operator. The CRTC says Compu-Finder complaints accounted for 26% of all complaints received for its industry sector. It had obtained e-mail addresses from publicly available websites, but recipients who complained said its offerings weren’t relevant to them. Email recipients were unsubscribing, but were still getting emails; some even tried to contact the Compu-Finder to tell them this, but they still got emails. The CRTC decided Compu-Finder violated CASL in two ways:
- Sending commercial electronic messages (CEMs) without consent; and
- Failing to meet its “unsubscribe”obligations.
The Penalty. The CRTC levied a $1.1 million administrative monetary penalty on Compu-Finder. The CRTC’s chief enforcement officer is quoted as noting the “flagrant nature of the violation” and the company’s failure to make any effort to change its business practices as the rationale for the significant penalty.
The Message. It’s a far cry from the $10M maximum penalty the CRTC can impose for a CASL violation. However, it’s certainly enough to get people’s attention and to make it clear the CRTC isn’t going to mess around when it comes to CASL violations – and those subject to it shouldn’t mess around with compliance:
- It’s an important reminder that CASL compliance is necessary, and those subject to it should make good faith efforts to promptly resolve any issues that come up
- Expect regulators to hit companies about which it gets a large number of complaints relative to their industry sector the hardest and fastest. However, now that the CRTC has levied its first substantial penalty there’s a real risk that it will also hit those that violate CASL in less “flagrant” ways with significant penalties
- Everyone subject to CASL should keep an eye on their procedures and systems, take corrective action where needed, and remain vigilant.
To learn more about CASL including whether it affects you and how to comply if it does, visit McInnes Cooper’s CASL Knowledge Page at www.mcinnescooper.com/services/privacy/casl/.
Read the CRTC’s March 5, 2015 Press Release about the penalty here. Read the CTV News March 5, 2015 article about the penalty here.
Please contact your McInnes Cooper lawyer or any member of our McInnes Cooper CASL Team to discuss this topic or any other legal issue.
McInnes Cooper has prepared this document for information only; it is not intended to be legal advice. You should consult McInnes Cooper about your unique circumstances before acting on this information. McInnes Cooper excludes all liability for anything contained in this document and any use you make of it.
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