On Friday, November 20, 2015, the Canadian Radio-television and
Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced that Rogers Media
Inc. (Rogers) paid $200,000 as part of an undertaking to resolve
alleged violations of Canada's anti-spam legislation
The allegations against Rogers include failure to comply with
various requirements of CASL between July 2014 and July 2015,
including (i) sending commercial emails containing an unsubscribe
mechanism that did not function properly or which could not be
readily performed by the recipient; (ii) using an electronic
address for unsubscribe purposes that was not valid for the
required minimum of 60 days following the date the message was
sent; and (iii) failing to honour a request to unsubscribe from
receiving future commercial emails within 10 business days of
notification of same.
In addition to the $200,000 fine, Rogers agreed to update and
implement a compliance program.
In the 16 months since CASL came into effect, there have been
less than a handful of findings by the regulators stemming from
complaints under CASL. Two of them involve well-known Canadian
businesses, Porter Airlines and Rogers, with these entities
agreeing to monetary payments of $150,000 and $200,000
respectively. These findings speak to the seriousness with which
the regulators take compliance with CASL and a possible
pattern of looking to well-known established Canadian businesses to
make a point as a warning to others. However, the lack of details
of the context surrounding the alleged breaches does not address
the challenges businesses have in interpreting CASL's
provisions and its application to complex and evolving
business relationships and methods of communication.
We encourage the regulators to provide ongoing guidance using
specific and contemporary examples to inform businesses of what is
expected, what will be adequate, what will be inadequate and what
nuances of various relationships will cause that relationship to
fall into different categories of the CASL labyrinth. Many
businesses have committed significant resources to try to comply
with CASL, while maintaining business activities in a competitive
commercial environment largely through evolving electronic means.
If the intent of the penalties under CASL are truly to encourage
compliance and not penalize, ongoing detailed guidance on how to
comply with the various overlapping and inconsistent provisions of
CASL is the least businesses can hope for.
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.
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