CRTC Fines Canadian Business CDN $1.1-Million for CASL Violations

And the other shoe has dropped.

In the first publicized application of penalties under Canada’s new anti-spam law, the CRTC announced earlier today that it has imposed penalties of $1.1-million Canadian (about $880K USD) against a firm for four separate violations. The violations include sending email without the consent of its recipients, and for sending mail without a functioning unsubscribe mechanism.

In the announcement, the CRTC identifies the target of the enforcement action as a Canadian company named Compu-Finder, whose mail promotes training courses to other businesses.

There are a couple of other interesting aspects to the action, aside from its novelty, and I wonder whether the CRTC will be able or willing to share additional details later on:

  • The maximum penalty under the law is $10-million Canadian for businesses. It would be interesting to learn more about how the CRTC arrived at the penalty amount in this case.
  • This first announcement of penalties is against a Canadian business sending to other businesses, and not some shadowy offshore spammer sending malware or phish to consumers through botnets. I think the CRTC is sending a message here, and it would be interesting to know more about how they selected their first case with penalties.
  • The announcement notes that the firm generated 26% of complaints received by the CRTC regarding senders within its specific industry. That implies that the CRTC is tracking violations by industry, and it would be very interesting to hear more about that data.

In my own, non-lawyerly reading of the announcement, it appears the firm now has three options: pay the fine; successfully demonstrate that they were making reasonable efforts to comply with the requirements of the law at the time of the violation; or “enter into an undertaking,” which appears to mean that they can pay a smaller fine and implement corrective measures, and promise not to do it again.

There’s likely to be much more written about this case, and I’m looking forward to reading more. In any event, this is a big day in the fight against spam, no matter what one’s opinion of the law may be.

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