The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has issued its first penalty under CASL's commercial electronic messaging (CEM) rules. In its News Release, the CRTC states that a Notice of Violation, including a penalty of $1.1 million, was issued against Compu-Finder for sending CEMs without the recipient's consent and without a properly functioning unsubscribe mechanism. The company now has 30 days to provide written representations or pay the penalty.

The News Release suggests that:

  • “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.”
  • “[A]n analysis of the complaints made to the Spam Reporting Centre of this industry sector shows that Compu-Finder accounts for 26% of all complaints submitted.”

The CRTC has powerful tools to investigate alleged breaches of CASL. These tools include:

  • Issuing a Preservation Demand to require an organization to preserve transmission data that would otherwise be lost;
  • Issuing a Notice to Produce that requires a person to produce information that is required for the investigation; and
  • Seeking a warrant that authorizes an investigator to, among other things, enter a place and remove anything required for examination or copying.

The CRTC also has powerful enforcement tools. Most significantly, it can issue a Notice of Violation that may also carry administrative monetary penalties. The maximum penalty is $1 million for an individual and $10 million for a business, per violation.