Dating web site PlentyOfFish pays $48,000 for alleged CASL violations

While the second penalty faced by a Canadian business under the Canadian anti-spam law (CASL) is just a fraction of the first, it’s still likely to cause some pain to the alleged offender.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced Wednesday that dating website operator Plentyoffish Media Inc. has paid $48,000 as part of an undertaking for an alleged violation of the anti-spam legislation. It appears Plentyoffish cooperated with the CRTC and took steps to correct any issues of non-compliance, which helps explains why it wasn’t hit with a penalty in the same ballpark as Compu-Finder, which was fined $1.1 million earlier this month for four violations of the act.

According to the CRTC, it launched an investigation after receiving complaints from citizens and discovered that Plentyoffish Media appeared to have sent commercial emails to registered users of its online dating service with an unsubscribe mechanism that either wasn’t prominent or couldn’t be readily performed, as required by CASL. Once made aware of the investigation, the CRTC said Plentyoffish Media updated its unsubscribe mechanism to fully comply with CASL.

Rather than face a fine, Plentyoffish Media has entered into an undertaking with the CRTC. In addition to the $48,000 payment, the undertaking will also see the company develop and implement a compliance program to help it stay compliant with CASL that will include training and education for staff and corporate policies and procedures.

According to its website, PlentyOfFish has over 90 million registered global users, with 3.6 million people logging onto the website daily. A couple confirms they met on the website every two minutes, and the website claims to create one million relationships every year.

Unlike Plentyoffish, Compu-Finder was singled-out by the CRTC as particularly egregious offender that ignored CRTC requests to follow the rules and accounted for 26 per cent of complaints under its industry segment received by the CRTC’s Spam Reporting Centre. Plentyoffish likely saved itself a larger payment by taking immediate steps to comply with CASL once notified of the violations.

After the Compu-Finder fine, Robert Burko, the president of Toronto-based marketing firm Elite Email and an ITBusiness.ca community blogger, said the high-profile action by the CRTC should shock other companies into compliance.

“On the whole, legitimate businesses weren’t spamming their customers in the first place,” said Burko. “Spamming has never been good business. They have a brand worth protecting.”

Is your business still struggling with CASL compliance? We have seven steps for CASL compliance you can take today to ensure your e-mail marketing and other electronic communications are within the law.

We have reached out to Plentyoffish Media for comment.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras is a technology journalist with IT World Canada and a member of the IT Business team. He began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada and the channel for Computer Dealer News. His writing has also appeared in the Vancouver Sun & the Ottawa Citizen.

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