In July 2014, nearly three years after its initial passing, the Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL) was enacted by Canada’s government, which imposed strict fines on senders who failed to follow guidelines around permission and identification. Since then, many in the industry had questioned the extent to which the law would be enforced.
Last week the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, (CRTC), the body that oversees CASL compliance, answered many of those questions by imposing the first CASL fine.
The CRTC sent a notice of violation about the first CASL fine to Compu-Finder asserting the company had sent commercial electronic messages, (CEM), without the consent of the recipients and with broken unsubscribe links. The notice also included a hefty fine of $1.1 million, (around $890,000 U.S.), for these violations.
The statement from the CRTC says Compu-Finder sent unsolicited messages to “email addresses it found by scouring websites.” It also asserted “consumers didn’t find Compu-Finder’s offerings relevant to them.” This is important to note because not only did it mention the messages were unsolicited, but also that they were not relevant to the recipients.
While CASL requires permission to be acquired for all commercial mailings, there are some types of messages that can be sent with implied permission, such as if the user has made a purchase from or volunteered with your organization. The CRTC made it clear Compu-Finder’s emails didn’t meet these criteria, and users lodged complaints with the organization because they had no interest in – or basis for – receiving the messages.
As a sender, this should serve as a stark reminder that failure to follow permission practices can have a drastic impact on your business or organization. Compu-Finder made some clear missteps according to the CRTC, but even if you’re not scraping addresses from the web, you may run afoul of some of the provisions of CASL.
Since the law has been in effect for nine months, we’re sure your email program is already compliant – but now is a great time to review your CASL compliance to ensure your processes are on point. If you need some guidance, feel free to check out The Email Marketer’s Ultimate Checklist for CASL.
As always, if you have questions, please reach out to the WhatCounts Support team for assistance.