Canada's Anti-spam Law (CASL) will largely come into force
on July 1, 2014, and will be enforced by three regulatory agencies
that have, to a certain extent, overlapping enforcement
On January 23, 2014, the Competition Bureau announced that the
commissioner of competition had entered into a memorandum of
understanding (MOU) with the privacy commissioner of Canada and the
Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to
clarify the overlapping roles and responsibilities of the three
participants. The MOU itself is dated October 22,
The MOU covers a number of topics, including notification,
enforcement cooperation and information sharing, criminal
enforcement, and confidentiality of information.
Notification between parties
The parties have agreed to notify each other if an enforcement
activity or investigation may "potentially affect"
another participant's interests. When there are overlapping
enforcement activities, the parties will independently consider
whether it is in their interest to enforce independently or jointly
with one or both other parties. Generally, the parties will seek to
coordinate their enforcement activities. When the private right of
action comes into force on July 1, 2017, the participants will
inform each other when a third party initiates an application or
notification under CASL.
When a foreign agency seeks information or assistance, the
parties will share the request and determine which participant(s)
will be involved in responding.
CASL's criminal provisions
The commissioner of competition has authority to enforce
criminal provisions of CASL. Once the commissioner decides to
pursue criminal enforcement actions, all cooperation and
information sharing between the MOU participants will stop.
The MOU does not require participants to share information if it
would be incompatible with any other legislation, including the
Access to Information Act. The participants have agreed, however,
that they will "seek to maintain the confidentiality of any
information obtained" and will oppose any request by a third
party for disclosure as much as possible. Organizations providing
information to any regulatory body or agency must carefully
consider the scope and content of the information to be provided
and ensure all confidential information is clearly identified as
confidential before forwarding any
The participants to the MOU will meet at least quarterly, and
more often as necessary. Because of the overlapping nature of
CASL's regulations, guidelines, and enforcement activities, it
is important for the three agencies to communicate their positions
clearly so the business community can understand their obligations
and options under what is often called the "strictest
anti-spam law in the world."
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The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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