In an effort to coordinate their potentially overlapping
mandates, the three agencies charged with enforcement of
Canada's new anti-spam law have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) dealing with
cooperation and sharing of information among the agencies.
On January 23, 2014, the Competition Bureau announced that the Commissioner of
Competition, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and the Canadian
Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), have
signed an MOU regarding the implementation of their respective
mandates under Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL).
The MOU intends to clarify the potentially overlapping
enforcement roles of each of the three agencies under their
respective legislative mandates, powers and processes. When CASL
comes into force, it will allow:
The CRTC to issue administrative monetary penalties for (a)
sending non-compliant commercial electronic messages, (b) altering
transmission data without express consent, and (c) the installation
of a computer program on a computer system or network without
The Competition Bureau to seek administrative penalties or
criminal sanctions under the Competition Act in relation to false or
misleading representations and deceptive marketing practices with
specific reference to the electronic marketplace, including false
or misleading electronic messages and website content; and
The Office of the Privacy Commissioner to enforce CASL with
respect to (a) the collection of personal information through
access to computer systems contrary to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic
Documents Act, and (b) electronic address harvesting where bulk
email lists are compiled through mechanisms.
Key provisions of the MOU address the following:
Notification – Under the new framework, the government
agencies are required to notify the other agencies with respect to
its enforcement activities in their respective jurisdictions,
including when it has initiated or discontinued a private action
Cooperation – The MOU provides that the government
agencies will work to keep each other informed of significant
enforcement developments in their jurisdictions, and establishes a
framework for technical cooperation. The MOU also recognizes
that when the government agencies are investigating related
matters, it may be in their common interests to
Coordination – The MOU establishes a framework for the
government agencies to consult on matters of CASL enforcement and
policy, and may share non-confidential information obtained in the
course of their enforcement activities. It also contemplates
periodic meetings among officials to exchange information on policy
and enforcement priorities.
Criminal Enforcement – The MOU creates a caveat to
government cooperation and information sharing where the
Commissioner of Competition decides to pursue enforcement under the
criminal provisions of CASL. One the decision to pursue has been
communicated, all cooperation and information sharing will cease
between the Commissioner of Competition and the other government
Although the real effect of the MOU is somewhat limited in
scope, it does signal possible intensified cooperation between the
government agencies in question.
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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