The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (the CRTC) recently issued another notice of violation under Canada’s anti-spam law (CASL), this time against Plentyoffish Media Inc., a corporation offering dating services to nearly 100 million users, some of which are located in Canada. This notice was sent in relation to commercial electronic messages (CEMs) sent between July 1, 2014, and October 8, 2014, that did not contain a prominent, easy-to-use unsubscribe mechanism.

After being notified of these violations, the corporation entered into a voluntary undertaking with the CRTC according to which the corporation agreed: (i) to pay a $48,000 fine; and (ii) to develop a compliance program that includes staff training and changes to its policies.

Our take

This case is a reminder of the importance of reviewing CEMs unsubscribe mechanisms to ensure compliance with CASL provisions. In addition to its power to issue notices of violation, the CRTC may discuss corrective actions with organizations.

It’s worth mentioning that under CASL the conclusion of an undertaking will limit the private right of action provided to recipients (alleging they were affected by an act or omission that constitutes a contravention of any of sections 6 to 9), with such right set to come into force on July 1, 2017. Indeed, Section 48 provides that the court may not consider an application for an order to pay damages – other than compensatory damages (i.e., damages equal to the actual loss or damage suffered or expenses incurred by the recipient) – if a corporation has entered into an undertaking with the CRTC. Hence, the liability of a corporation may be considerably reduced should it enter into an undertaking.

However, full compliance remains the best preventive measure.

Follow-up: $1.1-million fine issued against Compu-Finder

As to the notice of violation issued against Compu-Finder that was discussed in our previous update, the CRTC confirmed that Compu-Finder did not make representations to challenge the amount of the penalty or the alleged violations.