Canada’s onerous anti-spam legislation (CASL) came into force on July 1, 2014, but there has not been any news on enforcement activity by the regulators. However, that is not due to a lack of opportunity – by the end of September, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) had received over 100,000 complaints from members of the public about unwanted commercial electronic messages. We are expecting reports of enforcement activity – and hopefully with it some guidance on outstanding interpretation issues – any time now.

Franchisors looking to strengthen CASL compliance efforts should be aware that shortly before the legislation came into effect, the CRTC issued a Compliance and Enforcement Bulletin providing guidelines for businesses to develop corporate compliance programs. In the bulletin, the CRTC suggests two reasons for developing a full compliance program: it can help reduce the risk of a contravention, and it can help establish a due diligence defence in the event that a contravention occurs. According to the CRTC’s guidance, organizations need to develop, record and implement procedures and policies for creating a compliance program.

A compliance plan should:

  • create systems to track and document consent;
  • facilitate a mechanism for requests from recipients to unsubscribe;
  • provide internal education and training about CASL;
  • prepare audit and monitor procedures; and
  • clearly define responsibilities for any employee who has a role to play in CASL compliance.

Further, franchisors developing a corporate compliance plan will face the added challenge of addressing the exchange of information with franchisees (e.g., consider joint marketing programs).