On July 1, 2014, the central provisions of the Canadian Anti-Spam Law (“CASL”) came into force. 1 These provisions generally prohibit the sending of a Commercial Electronic Message (“CEM”) without a recipient’s express consent, and unless the CEM contains certain sender identification information and an effective unsubscribe mechanism. CASL provides a number of nuanced exceptions to the express consent requirements of the law. The primary enforcement agency of CASL is the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). The CRTC has several compliance tools to enforce CASL, including the issuance of Administrative Monetary Penalties (AMPs) against individuals and organizations that have violated CASL’s provisions.
Due to CASL’s broad applicability, exacting standards, and potentially severe financial penalties, companies that do business in Canada are advised to implement appropriate compliance measures to address the provisions of CASL. Companies sending emails to recipients in Canada must tailor their compliance programs to CASL’s complex set of consent exceptions and patchwork of guidelines, interpretations, and enforcement actions. To date, the CRTC has brought only a handful of major CASL enforcement actions, but many investigations are ongoing. Further clarification with regard to the most heavily utilized exceptions is expected. In October 2016, the CRTC assessed the scope of the “conspicuously published” implied consent exception in its first Compliance and Enforcement Decision (CRTC 2016-428).
The maximum AMP that the CRTC can assess against a company for a violation of CASL.2
The largest AMP that has been issued since CASL came into force in July 1, 2014.3
CASL related complaints filed with the CRTC between July 1, 2014 and January 6, 2015.4
July 1, 2017
The date that a private right of action for CASL violations becomes available.5
1. CASL does not apply to electronic messages sent:
2. CASL applies, but consent is not required where a CEM only:
3. CASL applies, but consent from the recipient is implied where:
Questions to consider when evaluating CASL:
1. An Act to promote the efficiency and adaptability of the Canadian economy by regulating certain activities that discourage reliance on electronic means of carrying out commercial activities, and to amend the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission Act, the Competition Act, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act and the Telecommunications Act, S.C. 2010, c. 23, Assented to 2010-12-15 ("CASL"), http://lois-laws.justice.gc.ca/eng/AnnualStatutes/2010_23/FullText.html.
2. CASL, Section 20(4).
3. Government of Canada, CRTC Notice of Violation: 3510395 Canada Inc. (Compu.Finder), (March 5, 2015), http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2015/vt150305.htm.
4. Government of Canada, Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation – FAQs for Businesses and Organizations, (January 15, 2015), http://fightspam.gc.ca/eic/site/030.nsf/eng/00304.html.
5. CASL, Section 91.