Bloomberg Law: Privacy & Data Security brings you single-source access to the expertise of Bloomberg Law’s privacy and data security editorial team, contributing practitioners,...
By Peter Menyasz
March 6 — Canada's federal spam regulator has imposed the first fine levied under Canada's new anti-spam law, a C$1.1 million ($880,000) penalty against training marketer Compu.finder Inc.
The penalty is based on violations of Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) in which Compu.finder allegedly sent commercial electronic messages without the recipient's consent and sent e-mails in which the unsubscribe mechanisms didn't function properly, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) said in a March 5 statement.
“Given this enforcement action and the significant penalties under CASL for failing to comply—including monetary penalties and a private right of action that becomes effective July 1, 2017—U.S. businesses should familiarize themselves with and take CASL into account in assessing their compliance risks,” Melissa J. Krasnow, a partner at Dorsey & Whitney LLP in Minneapolis, told Bloomberg BNA March 6.
“U.S. businesses may be subject to CASL as CASL applies to all commercial electronic messages where a computer system located in Canada is used to send or access the commercial electronic messages, subject to certain exceptions,” Krasnow said.
“A starting point is for U.S. businesses to determine whether CASL, in addition to the U.S. CAN SPAM Act, applies to them and if yes, take steps to comply,” she said.
“Where there is a nexus with Canada, CASL and the CAN SPAM Act, compliance issues are coming up in website and mobile application privacy policies, marketing and e-mail service provider agreements and in mergers and acquisitions discussions,” she said.
The messages, sent between July 2, 2014, and Sept. 16, 2015, promoted training courses on business management, social media and professional development, the CRTC said.
A review of complaints to the federal government's Spam Reporting Centre also showed that 26 percent of those filed to date on training sector companies were about the Quebec City-based firm, it said.
The Notice of Violation issued to Compu.finder gives the company 30 days from March 5 to file written representations contesting the notice or to pay the fine, the commission said.
Compu.finder didn't respond to Bloomberg BNA's March 5 request for comment on the penalty.
The penalty was levied despite the regulator's education efforts on the CASL, which took effect July 1, 2014.
The CRTC has conducted outreach initiatives within the Canadian business community to increase awareness of the new anti-spam requirements, Manon Bombardier, the CRTC's chief compliance and enforcement officer, said in the statement.
In June 2014, the CRTC issued compliance guidance that said companies would help avoid liabilities, including significant administrative monetary penalties, legal fees and reputational damage from potential violations of the CASL and its implementing Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules by initiating corporate compliance programs.
“Despite the CRTC's efforts, Compu.finder flagrantly violated the basic principles of the law by continuing to send unsolicited commercial electronic messages after the law came into force to email addresses it found by scouring websites. Complaints submitted to the Spam Reporting Centre clearly indicate that consumers didn't find Compu.finder's offerings relevant to them,” Bombardier said.
“By issuing this Notice of Violation, my goal is to encourage a change of behavior on the part of Compu.finder such that it adapts its business practices to the modern reality of electronic commerce and the requirements of the anti-spam law,” Bombardier said.
The anti-spam law, passed in December 2010, empowers the CRTC to impose penalties of up to C$10 million ($8 million) per violation for businesses and up to C$1 million ($800,000) per violation for individuals.
It also provides for extended liability for violations, including vicarious liability and director/officer liability.
To contact the reporter on this story: Peter Menyasz in Ottawa at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Donald G. Aplin at firstname.lastname@example.org
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)