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CASL offender fined $1.1 million

Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL) has claimed its first victim. A $1.1 million penalty has been given to a business training firm in Quebec, Compu-Finder, by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). According to the official news release,  Compu-Finder was issued a Notice of Violation for four violations of CASL due to sending unsolicited commercial emails with ineffective unsubscribe mechanisms.

“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,” said Manon Bombardier, chief compliance and enforcement officer for the CRTC. “By issuing this Notice of Violation, my goal is to encourage a change of behaviour 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. We take violations to the law very seriously and expect businesses to be in compliance.”

The offending emails were the subject of 26% of all industry sector complaints that the CRTC received between 2 July 2014 and 16 September 2014. Canada’s Spam Reporting Centre also received 250,000 complaints last year regarding Compu-Finder, so it remains to be seen if the firm has got the message after receiving this substantial fine.

Compu-Finder has 30 days to contest the findings, pay the penalty or request an undertaking (a negotiated settlement).

Canada’s Anti-Spam Law requires businesses to obtain either express ‘opt-in’ or implied consent to send commercial electronic messages (CEMs) to any recipient. This can be anything from email to SMS and social media messages, meaning that this legislation is far broader than others such as CAN-SPAMwhich are just targeted at emails.

In addition, all electronic marketing messages need to clearly identify the sender, include the sender’s contact information and provide an unsubscribe mechanism, unless fully exempt from the Act.

It is important to also be aware of the fact that a private right of action for CASL violations will come into effect in 2017.

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