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Canada Levies $1.1Mn Fine for Spamming

Canada has issued a $1.1 million fine for the violation of the country’s anti-spam law—the first ‘win’ for the legislation, which went into effect last July.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is levying the fine against Compu-Finder, which is a business training firm. It accounted for about a quarter (26%) of all complaints filed in its industry sector last year, and made up almost 250,000 complaints received at Canada’s Spam Reporting Centre.

CRTC said that the company sent unsolicited messages with unsubscribe links that didn’t have any effect. The mails promoted various training courses to businesses, often related to topics such as management, social media and professional development.

"Despite the CRTC's efforts, Compu-Finder flagrantly violated the basic principles of the law by continuing to send unsolicited commercial electronic messages after the law came into force, to email addresses it found by scouring websites,” said Manon Bombardier, chief compliance and enforcement officer at CRTC, in a statement. “Complaints submitted to the Spam Reporting Centre clearly indicate that consumers didn't find Compu-Finder's offerings relevant to them.”

Under the Canadian anti-spam legislation (CASL), CRTC can dole out corrective actions to individuals, firms or organizations, and can also issue warning letters, preservation demands, notices to produce, restraining orders and notices of violation. Compu-Finder has 30 days to justify its actions to the CRTC or pay the penalty. It also has the option of requesting a hearing with the regulator.

“By issuing this Notice of Violation, my goal is to encourage a change of behavior 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,” Bombardier said. “We take violations to the law very seriously and expect businesses to be in compliance."

The new law is expected to have effects even outside of Canadian borders.

“We can expect that the Canadian government will continue to enforce CASL and pursue individuals and companies that break this law in both Canada and abroad,” explained Paul Kincaid-Smith, vice president of deliverability at cloud-based email service provider SendGrid, in an emailed comment. “As a result, CASL needs to be taken seriously by all commercial email senders, not just those in Canada, since it’s difficult to identify where email recipients are located. These laws are part of a multi-dimensional approach to fighting spam, which also includes industry self-regulation initiatives such as those supported by the Messaging, Mobile and Malware Anti-Abuse Working Group (M3AAWG).”

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