The honeymoon is over: CASL one year later

On July 1, 2015, Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) will have been in force for one whole year. One year is not a long period of time in the grand scheme of things, and you may think that we should still be in a honeymoon phase where the legislation isn’t actively enforced yet. However, it turns out, that’s not the case! The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), which is the primary body responsible for enforcing CASL, has been enforcing the legislation and they don’t seem to be in the mood for romance.

Just so you remember, CASL establishes that all Commercial Electronic Messages (CEMs) subject to the legislation must meet three requirements:

  1. There must be consent to send the CEM;
  2. The CEM must contain the required identification information;
  3. The CEM must contain a functioning unsubscribe link.

There are exemptions, loopholes, provisions regarding the installation of computer programs, and several other conditions set out in the legislation that must be complied with when sending CEMs, but these three points are the gist of it. Any CEMs sent in violation of the legislation can result in a fine of up to $1 million for an individual or up to $10 million for any other entity.

The CRTC issued a News Release on March 5, 2015, stating that they issued a penalty to Compu-Finder. The Notice of Violation for Compu-Finder claimed that they had been sending out emails to promote training courses without consent. Further, the emails did not contain a properly functioning unsubscribe link. The emails in question were sent between July 2, 2014 (the day after the legislation came into effect) and September 16, 2014. Apparently 26% of all the complaints submitted through the CRTC’s Spam Reporting Centre were regarding these Compu-Finder emails. The penalty imposed was a whopping $1.1 million.

Plentyoffish Media was also fined for violating CASL. They paid $48,000 in fines on March 25, 2015, for sending CEMs where the unsubscribe link was not prominently set out and could not be readily preformed. These emails were sent between July 1, 2014 and October 8, 2014, again right after the legislation came into effect. Plentyoffish Media were also required to develop and implement a compliance program as part of the settlement.

So, is your office CASL compliant? You may want to refresh your memory by reviewing our CASL compliance materials found here.

Also, we appreciate out-of-the-box thinking around here, but if you’re thinking you can avoid CASL by doing all your marketing via the phone then beware – the CRTC is also actively enforcing the Do-Not-Call List legislation. The CRTC issued 32 Notices of Violation under the Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules in 2014 to 2015, which resulted in over $2 million in penalties. But don’t worry, we have Do-Not-Call List compliance materials, too. You can find those here.

The article above is for information purposes and is not legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel.

Allison McLure, former Legal Counsel, provided advice to CREA, boards, and associations on intellectual property law, DDF®, and Canada’s anti-spam legislation, as well as protected CREA’s trademarks and helped members comply with federal legislation and CREA’s trademark rules.


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