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Can your organization send emails without permission?

Canada’s anti-spam legislation came into force in 2014. Among other things, the legislation prohibits sending commercial electronic messages (CEM) without the permission of the recipient. Commercial electronic message include emails and text messages encouraging participation in a commercial activity (offers to sell, purchase, barter or lease products, offers to provide services, etc.).

To send a CEM, an organization generally requires the consent of the recipient and the CEM must comply with certain mandated requirements, including providing a mechanism to unsubscribe from receiving such messages.

The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is one of three agencies enforcing the legislation (together with the Competition Bureau and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner) and is responsible for issuing monetary penalties to those who violate the legislation.

The CRTC receives hundreds of thousands of complaints. Some of the more significant enforcement actions by the CRTC include the following: Compu-Finder fined $1.1 million for sending CEMs without recipient’s consent and without an unsubscribe mechanism; PlentyOfFish Media Inc. fined $48,000 for not including an unsubscribe mechanism; Porter Airlines fined $150,000 for no consent or unsubscribe mechanism in some CEMs, or unsubscribe mechanism not prominently displayed and failure to honour unsubscribe requests; Rogers Media Inc. fined $200,000 for failure of unsubscribe mechanism or failure to provide the unsubscribe mechanism and failure to honour unsubscribe requests; and Kellog Canada Inc. - $60,000 for sending CEMs without consent.

Your organization would be well advised to familiarize itself with the anti-spam legislation before sending commercial electronic messages to the public.

Paul Pop
Paul Pop
P: 905.667.6406
ppop@rossmcbride.com