First CASL fine hits Quebec spammer for more than $1 million

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has issued a notice of violation and a $1.1 million fine to Quebec-based Compu-Finder for breaking the Canadian anti-spam law (CASL).

The new law covers email, text messages, social media or other forms of telecommunications. The law is meant to prevent spamming, the redirection of online traffic by altering transmission data, installing computer programs without consent making deceptive representations online, harvesting email addresses from computers and accessing computer systems to collect personal data without consent.

Compu-Finder, which provides management and advanced technology training to executives and managers, is the first business to be fined under the law, which took effect July 1 last year.

ITWorldCanada contacted Compu-Finder, but was told no one from the firm was available to provide any comment.

According to a statement from the CRTC’s chief compliance and enforcement officer, earlier investigations revealed that Compu-Finder sent commercial electronic messages to people without the recipient’s consent. The company also sent emails in which the unsubscribe mechanism did not function properly.

Compu-Finder promoted various training courses related to management, social media and professional development.

The company committed four alleged violations that occurred between July 2, 2014 and Sept. 16, 2014.

Analysis by the Spam Reporting Centre also showed that Compu-Finder accounted for 26 per cent of the complaints submitted in its industry sector.

“Complaints submitted to the Spam Reporting centre clearly indicates that consumers didn’t find Compu-Finder’s offerings relevant to them,” said Manon Bombardier, chief compliance and enforcement officer for the CRTC, in a statement. “By issuing this notice of violation, my goal is to encourage a change of behaviour on the part of Compu-Finder such that it adapts its business practices to the modern reality of electronic commerce and the requirements of the anti-spam law.”

While the CRTC can issue administrative monetary penalties for violating CASL, the federal Competition Bureau can ask a court for administrative monetary penalties or criminal sanctions under the Competition Act. The federal Privacy Commissioner also has new powers to go after violators under changes to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA).

Compu-Finder has 30 days to submit written representations to the CRTC or pay the penalty.  It also has the option of requesting an undertaking with the CRTC on this matter.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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