In March 2015, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)issued its first Notice of Violation under Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL).
The notice (which was not publicly published) was issued against the Canadian corporate Compu-Finder, based upon the allegations that the company sent commercial electronic messages to addresses of businesses it found by scouring websites, without the recipients' consent and without a properly functioning unsubscribe mechanism, thereby disregarding the requirements of the CASL. The notice included a C$1.1-million administrative penalty.
In this regard, it should be noted that the CRTC has adopted a complaint-based approach, as the large number of complaints received in the Canadian Spam Reporting Centre in relation to Compu-Finder’s activities (26% of all of the complaints) was a dominant factor in the CRTC’s decision to investigate the company.
The CRTC indicated that Compu-Finder was sending commercial electronic messages to businesses (as opposed to consumers); although the regulations enacted under the CASL offer an exemption to businesses sending messages to other businesses with which the sender has a prior "relationship" and where the message concerns the activities of the organization to which the message is sent, the CRTC adopted a more rigorous approach and further examined whether the recipient businesses find the messages relevant to them. In light of this interpretation, businesses may need to more carefully examine the electronic messages they send in reliance on this exemption.