Canada’s New Anti-spam Law Hooks PlentyOfFish

Apr 15, 2015 3:30 PM PST

TORONTO — Canada has started to hand out stiff fines for violating its new anti-spam law.

Under CASL, short for “Canada’s anti-spam law,” businesses can face penalties of up to $10 million in penalties if found liable.

Companies sending electronic messages — via via email, text message, instant message or social media message — now must have the prior consent of recipients, thus eliminating the spam sent to the inboxes of Canadians.

CASL also forces businesses to include prominent unsubscribe tools and affects businesses that route data through Canadian servers, whether or not that information is intended for Canadian consumers.

The first two businesses fined under the law that went into effect last July included dating site PlentyOfFish.com and corporate training firm Compu-Finder Inc.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), which has jurisdiction in CASL cases, said that PlentyOfFish.com allegedly sent emails without a prominent unsubscribe mechanism.

The agency said it acted upon complaints submitted to the agency by Canadians and found violations over a four-month period.

“This case in an important reminder to businesses that they need to review their unsubscribe mechanisms to ensure they are clearly and prominently set out and can be readily performed as required by the legislation,” CRTC spokesman Manon Bombardier said. 

Once made aware of the investigation by the CRTC, PlentyOfFish.com updated its unsubscribe mechanism to comply with the legislation and implemented a compliance program that includes training and education for staff and corporate policies and procedures.

PlentyOfFish.com was fined $48,000.

In Compu-Finder Inc.’s case, the company not only did not have unsubscribe mechanisms did not properly functioning, it also had sent commercial emails without consent. Those emails allegedly had been poached from third-party websites.

“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,” Bombardier said.

The company was fined $1.1 million.

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