The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications (CRTC) has
announced its third settlement for alleged violations of the
anti-spam law, and again, the announcement relates to a well-known
Canadian business, rather than an indiscriminate or malicious
The alleged violations included allegations that the company
sent commercial electronic messages that included an unsubscribe
mechanism that did not function properly, or which could not be
readily performed by the recipient. The CRTC had also alleged
that in some instances, the electronic address used to unsubscribe
was not valid for the required minimum of 60 days after the message
was sent. Finally, the CRTC had alleged that RMI had, in some
cases, failed to honour unsubscribe requests within the 10 business
days required by the law.
This case marks the highest AMP paid to date under a settlement
relating to alleged CASL violations, although falls well short of
the $1.1 million AMP set out in the Notice of Violation levied earlier this year against business
training provider Compu-Finder, as well as being significantly
below the maximum financial penalty of $10 million per violation
that the Act allows.
Eighteen months after CASL came into force, there is still
considerable uncertainty about how many of the provisions of the
law will be applied, and how AMPs are calculated. In addition
to the inherent vagueness of many aspects of the legislation
itself, this uncertainty also results from a paucity of announced
settlements and notices of violation, as well as a lack of granular
details as to how the Commission is interpreting and applying the
In this regard, since July 2014, the results of only five
investigations have been announced. In addition to the
Compu-Finder case, settlements have also been reached with Porter Airlines and Plentyoffish Media. In the remaining
case, the circumstances of which arose in the early days after the
law came into force, the
Commission announced that it had determined that
millions of spam messages had been sent from the server of a small
business, which had been infected by malware. The business
subsequently removed the malware, and no AMPs were sought.
Perhaps most troublingly, this most recent settlement suggests
what many Canadian businesses had feared: a trend toward
enforcement against legitimate domestic companies that may have
made errors in their attempts to comply with the law, rather than
enforcement against the most damaging and deceptive types of spam
and online threats, such as identity theft, phishing and spyware,
which were supposed
to be the core focus of the new law. Only time
will tell if future announcements may reveal enforcement efforts
against such hardcore spammers.
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