CRTC levies first major fine for anti-spam law breach

A new anti-spam law introduced last year has resulted in its first major fine 

A new anti-spam law introduced last year has resulted in its first major fine.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) notified a Quebec company called Compu.finder a $1.1 million fine – a tenth of the maximum that can be levied.

According to the CRTC, Compu.finder was responsible for 26% of all the complaints lodged under the Canada Anti Spam Legislation (CASL), which came into effect last year in July. However, the fine being levied was based on just four alleged violations of CASL.

According to the CRTC, the company, based in Morin-Heights, Quebec, sent emails without the consent of the recipients and its unsubscribe function did not work properly.

The emails promoted training courses to businesses for things like social media and professional development.

The company has 30 days to either pay the fine or otherwise contest the penalty in writing.

CASL has been criticized by many Canadian businesses as being heavy handed. Unlike similar anti-spam legislation in the U.S., which requires all electronic messages to include an opt-out mechanism, CASL requires an opt-in.

Leading up to its implementation, Canadian businesses scrambled to get existing customers and subscribers to give consent to continue to receive emails, newsletters and other electronic communications, because after July 1, 2014, it became illegal to even ask for that consent via an electronic message.

The law only applies to electronic messages – primarily emails and instant messaging – that have some commercial purpose. It also has a component that restricts the installing of computer programs and software without explicit consent.