Canada: PlentyOf Fish Hooked By Anti-Spam Legislation

Last Updated: April 1 2015
Article by Roland Hung

Most Read Contributor in Canada, September 2018

Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation ("CASL") came into force on July 1, 2014, creating new requirements for sending commercial electronic messages ("CEM").1 A non-compliant business risks having "administrative monetary penalties" (or "AMPs,", which are essentially fines) levied against it by the CRTC. However, until recently, there has been no guidance on how aggressively CASL would be enforced, the scope of Notices of Violations, or how AMPs would be determined, and the scope of such. Businesses were stuck in a murky regulatory regime.

With the recent $48,000 AMP imposed on PlentyOfFish, as part of an undertaking entered into between the company and the CRTC, the water is becoming clearer.

After receiving a number of complaints, the CRTC launched an investigation of, ultimately finding that the dating website was sending CEMs to its users without a proper unsubscribe mechanism, in violation of the legislation.2 The unsubscribe mechanism was not clearly or prominently set out, and could not be readily performed, as required by the legislation; accordingly, PlentyOfFish's CEMs were found to be in violation of the legislation.3

So what can businesses learn from the CRTC's recent CASL activities?

  1. Once made aware of the investigation, PlentyOfFish updated its unsubscribe mechanism to comply with the provisions of the CASL regulation. While businesses should ensure compliance with CASL from the outset, the PlentyOfFish cases suggests that prompt review and remediation upon receipt of a notice of an investigation may assist in keeping penalties on the low end of the scale.

    Businesses should ensure that all CEMs contain a clear and prominent unsubscribe mechanism, and further ensure that the steps to unsubscribe are not unduly difficult or otherwise not able to be performed. This can include:

    • a link to a web page where the user can unsubscribe from receiving all or some types of CEMs; or
    • in the case of SMS messages, the ability to click on a similar link or text back the word "stop" or "unsubscribe."4
    The $48,000 fine was paid by PlentyofFish as part of an undertaking entered into between the company and the CRTC. Undertakings are essentially binding promises and may be entered into before or after a Notice of Violation are issued; contravention of a term of the undertaking is itself a violation. Once again, the lesson appears to be that moving quickly to respond and address alleged deficiencies can keep penalties lower. However, this is a trade-off, as a business which enters into an undertaking will incur costs related to creation of a compliance program, which is almost certainly going to be a required term of any undertaking.

    The federal government has provided an information bulletin containing guidelines to help businesses develop corporate compliance programs in light of CASL.5 Businesses should consider taking the following steps:

    • involving senior management in fostering a culture of compliance in the organization;
    • conducting a risk assessment for which business activities run the greatest risk of violating CASL;
    • development of a written corporate compliance policy, which should be updated regularly and easily accessible by all employees;
    • keeping accurate and thorough records;
    • create and implement an effective training program for employees;
    • create and implement auditing and monitoring mechanisms for the compliance program;
    • put a complaint-handling system in place to ensure customers can submit complaints that are addressed in a reasonable period of time;
    • create and enforce an organizational disciplinary code to address contraventions.
  2. The CRTC has further conducted a number of information sessions, and has a number of guides available on its website to aid in businesses' efforts to comply with CASL. Businesses developing a corporate compliance program should review the available government guidelines for practical tips.


Businesses are beginning to see CASL's teeth, as CRTC investigators start to reel in violators of the legislation. Administrative monetary penalties under the legislative regime may be up to $1,000,000 per violation for individuals, and $10,000,000 for organizations. The CRTC may require undertakings which can include fines and corrective measures, such as in this case, or may also issue warning letters, preservation demands, notices to produce, restraining orders, and notices of violation. The PlentyofFish fine is only the second major penalty imposed under CASL, but businesses should be ready to weather unfriendly seas if they intend to send CEMs without ensuring compliance with Canada's anti-spam legislation.

To view original article, please click here


1 CASL, also commonly referred to as "Canada's anti-spam legislation," refers to An Act to promote the efficiency and adaptability of the Canadian economy by regulating certain activities that discourage reliance on electronic means of carrying out commercial activities, and to amend the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission Act, the Competition Act, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act and the Telecommunications Act, S.C. 2010, c. 23, and the associated regulations made thereunder,

2 "PlentyOfFish Media Inc. pay $48,000 for alleged violation of Canada's anti-spam law", 25 March 2015, Government of Canada News Release, online: (

3 Electronic Commerce Protection Regulations (CRTC), SOR/2012-36, s. 3.

4 Compliance and Enforcement Information Bulletin, CRTC 2012-548, online: (

5 Also see the federal government's guidelines on developing corporate compliance programs: Information Bulletin CRTC 2012-548, 19 June 2014, online: (

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

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
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).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions