Canada’s anti-spam law (commonly known as “CASL”) creates a comprehensive regime of offences, enforcement mechanisms and potentially severe penalties that prohibit unsolicited or misleading commercial electronic messages (“CEMs”), the unauthorized commercial installation and use of computer programs and other forms of online fraud.

CASL creates an opt-in regime that prohibits the sending of a CEM (subject to limited exceptions) unless the recipient has given informed consent (express or implied in limited circumstances) to receive the CEM and the CEM complies with prescribed formalities, including an effective unsubscribe mechanism. CASL applies to a regulated CEM if a computer system in Canada is used to send or access the CEM, regardless of the location of the CEM sender or CEM recipient.

In 2015, regulatory authorities began enforcing CASL against Canadian businesses, including:

  1. Compu Finder – violation notice and $1.1 million penalty for allegedly sending CEMs without consent and without a required unsubscribe mechanism;
  2. PlentyofFish Media – voluntary settlement and $48,000 penalty for allegedly sending CEMs without a required unsubscribe mechanism;
  3. Porter Airlines – voluntary settlement and $150,000 penalty for allegedly sending CEMs without proof of consent, without required information or without a required unsubscribe mechanism; and
  4. Aviscar and Budgetcar – administrative proceedings for allegedly false or misleading representations to the public, including misleading promotional emails, regarding vehicle rental prices.

The enforcement actions demonstrate that CASL violations can have potentially serious financial and reputational consequences for Canadian businesses.