Surprisingly, this much anticipated enforcement action was not
against a firm targeting consumers, as many had suspected, but
rather was directed at a firm sending email messages to businesses
to promote various training courses related to topics such as
management, social media and professional development.
It is believed by many that the overwhelming majority of the more
than 250,000 complaints received by the CRTC since the law came
into force have been from consumers. In the case at hand, the
CRTC indicated that over one quarter of all complaints about the
training industry sector received by the Spam Reporting Centre
related to Compu-Finder, although it is not known how many
complaints were received.
Following an investigation, the CRTC's Chief Compliance and
Enforcement Officer found that Compu-Finder sent commercial
electronic messages without the recipient's consent, as
required by law, as well as sending commercial electronic messages
in which the required unsubscribe mechanisms did not function
The CRTC's media release also indicates that the messages in
question were sent to electronic addresses the company found by
scouring websites. To the extent that these addresses were
collected by a computer system, such collection and use may also be
contrary to the Personal Information
Protection and Electronic Documents Act, pursuant
to consequential amendments to that law that were made by CASL,
meaning that the company's behaviour could also be the subject
of complaints to the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.
The penalty imposed against Compu-Finder is also notable for two
other reasons: first, because it apparently relates to just four
violations. Even if each of these violations were to involve
individual training offers sent to thousands of recipients, the
decision suggests a somewhat aggressive approach to determining
appropriate penalty amounts. Second, each of these violations
occurred between July 2, 2014 (the day after the Act came into
force) and September 16, 2014, suggesting that, contrary to the
expectations of some, it would appear that the CRTC is showing
little leniency in the early days after the law came into
The CRTC has indicated that a number of other investigations
under CASL are currently underway, but no other Notices of
Violation have been made public to date. The Commission has
also noted that it is working with its international partners with
respect to enforcement of the Act, suggesting that non-Canadian
senders of electronic messages may also be the subject of future
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Software license agreements generally require the customer to pay fees for the software license and related services, which fees are usually based upon the duration of the license and the manner in which the customer is allowed to use the software, together with applicable taxes and withholdings.
In less than nine months, on July 1, 2017, persons affected by a contravention of Canada's anti-spam legislation will be able to invoke a private right of action to sue for compensation and potentially substantial statutory damages.
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