On March 5, 2015, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) issued the first notice of violation under Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL), seeking a penalty of $1.1 million from a Québec-based company, Compu-Finder, for alleged violations of the law.

In a press release, the CRTC stated that it conducted an investigation that concluded Compu-Finder sent commercial electronic messages (CEMs) promoting its training courses to potential business customers without the consent of the recipients. Furthermore, the unsubscribe mechanisms included in the messages are alleged not to have functioned correctly.

The CRTC investigation considered four alleged violations that took place between July 2, 2014 (the day after the legislation came into force) and September 16, 2014. While only four violations are outlined in the notice, the CRTC stated that Compu-Finder accounted for 26 per cent of complaints to the Spam Reporting Centre in its industry sector.

Manon Bombardier, the CRTC’s Chief Compliance and Enforcement Officer, stated 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.”

Compu-Finder has 30 days to submit written representations to the CRTC or pay the penalty.

The CRTC also stated in its release that a number of additional investigations are underway, but did not provide the industry sector of those under investigation, or any information on whether further notices of violation would be forthcoming.

All organizations that send commercial electronic messages, including email and text messages, in or into Canada, should again consider their marketing programs to ensure they are compliant with the law. While CASL has been in force for more than eight months, the CRTC has now started to flex its enforcement muscle by seeking to impose serious monetary penalties. Violations of CASL are potentially subject to a fine of up to $10 million.