On March 5, 2015, the Canadian Radio-television and
Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) issued its first Notice of Violation under Canada's
anti-spam legislation (known as CASL), which came into force on
July 1, 2014.
Despite its name, CASL is not limited to what one might normally
consider spam or junk email. Rather, the law applies to any
electronic message sent in connection with a commercial activity
(referred to in the legislation as a "commercial electronic
message", or CEM). CASL's broad definition of CEM includes
any emails, texts, instant messages, Facebook or other social media
messages sent to the electronic addresses of customers or
prospective customers promoting a business or its products.
The basic premise of CASL is that, subject to certain
exemptions, (i) senders of CEMs must have the prior consent of
recipients (express or implied); and (ii)
CEMs must comply with certain form and content requirements,
including specifying the purpose for which consent is sought and
providing an "unsubscribe" mechanism for recipients who
no longer wish to receive a sender's CEMs.
consequences of violating CASL can be severe, including up to
$10 million in fines for corporations, personal liability for
individual officers and directors, vicarious liability for
companies for non-compliant acts of their employees and, after July
1, 2017, possible civil actions.
The CRTC's Notice of Violation was issued against
Compu-Finder Inc., a Québec-based company that offers
various training and development solutions for business executives
and management. The CEMs sent by Compu-Finder (in this case emails)
promoted training courses to businesses on topics such as
management, social media and professional development. The CRTC
alleges that Compu-Finder's four violations included sending
emails between July 2, 2014 and September 16, 2014 without the
consent of recipients and without a properly functioning
unsubscribe mechanism. The CRTC also stated that 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." The CRTC's reference to
"scouring websites" is intended to remind businesses that
the so-called business card exception (i.e., permitting a
sender to imply consent to receive a CEM on the basis of the
recipient's electronic address being conspicuously published on
a website) applies only where the CEM is relevant to the
recipient's business or position.
The CRTC's Notice of Violation orders Compu-Finder to pay a
penalty of $1.1 million. Compu-Finder has 30 days to pay the
penalty or to submit written representations in its defence to the
CRTC. It also may request the option of entering into an
undertaking with the CRTC, which would involve agreeing to adopt
corrective measures prescribed by the CRTC (but perhaps a lower
Significantly, the CRTC's announcement also states that it
has a number of other CASL investigations underway and that it is
working with its partners, both within Canada (such as the
Competition Bureau and the Privacy Commissioner) and
internationally, to "protect Canadians from online threats and
contribute to a more secure online environment".
The penalty against Compu-Finder confirms the Canadian
government's resolve to enforce CASL and thus the need for
businesses to carefully comply with the new anti-spamming rules.
Davies is available to assist you with all of your CASL compliance
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.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
Under the Income Tax Act, the Employment Insurance Act, and the Excise Tax Act, a director of a corporation is jointly and severally liable for a corporation's failure to deduct and remit source deductions or GST.
Under the Income Tax Act, the Employment Insurance Act, the Canada Pension Plan Act and the Excise Tax Act, a director of a corporation is jointly and severally liable for a corporation's failure to deduct and remit source deductions.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).