On Dec. 3, 2015, the Canadian Radio-television and
Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced that it had served
the first warrant under Canada's Anti-spam Law (CASL).
The warrant was intended to bring down a server located in
Toronto, Ontario, that had been identified in an international
investigation as a command and control server for the distribution
of Win32/Dorkbot malware. Dorkbot compromises infected computers to
allow the theft of usernames, passwords and other information,
creating a risk of identity theft, can cause the computer to
participate in distributed denial of service attacks, and can also
download additional malware that may further compromise the device.
Manon Bombardier, the CRTC's Chief Compliance and Enforcement
Officer commented that "These are very egregious botnets that
are used for illicit activities and can lead to identity theft and
In the course of the investigation leading to the warrant, the
CRTC collaborated with law enforcement agencies and partners around
the world, including the RCMP, the Canadian Cyber Incident Response
Centre, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Interpol, and
The warrant represents the first time the CRTC has used the
provisions in CASL that permit an ex parte application to
a justice of the peace to seek a warrant that permits a designated
person to enter a place, examine anything found there, including
using any computer found there, and remove anything found for
further examination. It is also the first use of CASL to target the
distribution of malware.
While Canadians will no doubt rightly welcome the use of CASL to
target malware, entities doing business in Canada should also note
that the CRTC continues to actively enforce the provisions of CASL
pertaining to the sending of commercial electronic messages. In
late November, the CRTC entered a compliance undertaking with
Rogers Media, in which Rogers agreed to pay $200,000. The CRTC
alleged that Rogers had sent commercial emails that used an
unsubscribe mechanism that did not function correctly, or that
could not be "readily performed". Rogers also allegedly
failed to honour unsubscribe requests within 10 business days.
With the enforcement of CASL in full swing, all entities that
send commercial electronic messages in or into Canada must ensure
that they are taking appropriate actions to ensure they are in
compliance with CASL, and that they can evidence their compliance
if faced with a CRTC investigation.
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