Earlier today, the Canadian Radio-television and
Telecommunications Commission (the CRTC) announced that Porter
Airlines Inc. had agreed to pay $150,000 for alleged violations of
Canada's anti-spam law (known as CASL). Porter was fined
despite the fact that it cooperated with the CRTC, took immediate
corrective steps and it was the company's first compliance
issue under CASL.
According to its press release, the CRTC's Chief Compliance
and Enforcement Officer determined that Porter had contravened
various CASL requirements between July 2014 (when CASL came into
force) and April 2015.
The CRTC alleged that Porter had sent commercial electronic
1. that did not contain an unsubscribe mechanism and/or
the unsubscribe mechanism was not "clearly or
prominently" set out in the CEMs;
2. that did not provide the complete contact
information as required under CASL;
3. where some unsubscribe requests had not been
processed within 10 business days; and
4. where the company was unable to demonstrate that
it had obtained the necessary consents.
Under the terms of the settlement, in addition agreeing to pay
an administrative monetary penalty (AMP), Porter agreed to improve
its existing compliance program (including increased training and
education for staff and improved corporate programs and policies)
to ensure that its activities, going forward, are fully compliant
with CASL. It also brought its mailing list into compliance with
This case is important for several reasons:
1. it confirms that Canadians know their rights under
CASL and are reporting CASL violations to the CRTC through its Spam
2. it signals that the CRTC is committed to ensuring
compliance and will not hesitate to take enforcement action where
appropriate – including by imposing significant
3. it shows that the CRTC will impose significant
financial consequences even where there are significant mitigating
factors (e.g., first offence, cooperation, corrective action,
4. it appears that the CRTC is looking to send a
clear message to the business community that it intends to
aggressively enforce CASL.
A final takeaway is that, simply having a CASL policy in place
is not sufficient to avoid either contraventions or sanctions under
CASL, and this case serves as a reminder for companies to regularly
assess the their CASL compliance programs. As part of their overall
risk mitigation strategy, businesses should monitor the
effectiveness of their CASL programs - including thorough audits -
and provide ongoing compliance training for staff to avoid
inadvertent breaches of the law.
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