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Neil Beaton was a Senior Vice President with Pacific & Western Bank of Canada for 8 years prior to joining The OTC Group as V.P. Corporate Development in 2013.

Last week, the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) levied a $1.1 million fine against a Canadian corporate training company for violating CASL (Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation). CASL signifies a sea-change in the way businesses in Canada can communicate with existing and/or prospective customers and business partners and, as such, represents a real and growing risk to those businesses from a potential financial penalty perspective.

Financial Institutions (FIs) are largely in the business of managing risk on numerous levels. The regulatory environment in Canada is a continuously evolving landscape for FIs and regulatory risk is one of the many risks they need to address – the repercussions of non-compliance can be significant. Starting with the oversight imposed by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) to supervise, monitor and administer a regulatory framework for financial institutions, FIs in Canada bear an extraordinary regulatory burden, far exceeding what our financial counterparts in the U.S. experience. While this framework is a necessary form of governance, it is also fundamentally, from a business standpoint, a form of risk that needs to be monitored, managed and mitigated.

As Canadian FIs are all too aware, OSFI may be the primary regulator, but is far from the sole party involved in the broader regulatory environment. For example, the after-effects of the 9/11 terrorist attacks combined with increasing incidences of significant levels of criminal and terrorist activities in leveraging money laundering saw a significant change in the regulations surrounding AML (anti-money-laundering). So much so that in 2001, the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) Act (PCMLA) was amended to include anti-terrorist financing (ATF) and was subsequently re-named the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (PCMLTFA). As a result, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) was formed to battle money laundering and terrorist financing both nationally and internationally.

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laura
by laura

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is the principle agency tasked with enforcing Canada’s anti-spam law. Today they issued a Notice of Violation to Compu-Finder including a $1.1 million dollar fine for 4 violations of CASL. The violations include sending unsolicited email and having a non-working unsubscribe link. According to the CRTC, complaints about Compu-Finder accounted for 26% of all complaints submitted about this industry sector.

This is the first major fine announced under CASL.

One of the first things that jumped out at me about this is the action was taken against B2B mail. There are a lot of senders out there who think nothing of sending unsolicited emails to business addresses. In my experience, many B2B senders think permission is much less important for them than B2C senders. I think that this enforcement action demonstrates that, at least to the CRTC, permission is required for B2B mail.

The other thing that jumped out is that given the extent of the complaints (26%) the financial penalties were only slightly more than 10% of the $10M maximum penalty. It seems the CRTC is not blindly applying the maximum penalty, but is instead actually applying some discretion to the fines.

I’ve looked for the actual notice of violation, but haven’t been able to find a copy. If I find it, I will share.

This has been re-posted to the CASL Cure blog with permission from Laura of Word to the Wise

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Today the CRTC’s Chief Compliance and Enforcement Officer today issued a Notice of Violation to Compu-Finder, which includes a penalty of $1.1 million. This is the largest penalty to date and Compu-Finder has 30 days to submit written representations to the CRTC or pay the penalty. Click here to learn more about the enforcement action.

“Prior to the coming into force of the anti-spam law, the CRTC conducted numerous outreach initiatives to increase the awareness of businesses on the new requirements. Creating a secure online environment for Canadians is also the responsibility of industry. 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. Complaints submitted to the Spam Reporting Centre clearly indicate that consumers didn’t find Compu-Finder’s offerings relevant to them. By issuing this Notice of Violation, my goal is to encourage a change of behaviour 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. We take violations to the law very seriously and expect businesses to be in compliance.”

Manon Bombardier
Chief Compliance and Enforcement Officer
Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission

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Plain Language Guide to CASL from CFIB

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) has put together a plain language guide to CASL and its effect on your business. There is info on key dates, the types of consent and the meaning behind the law. Here is an excerpt:

On July 1st, 2014 Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL) came into effect with the threat of very severe penalties for those caught in noncompliance. Since then we have closely watched government enforcement and listened closely to what our members are telling us. We continue to believe it is unlikely that a small business who diligently tries to comply will become a target of government enforcement over the next year.

CFIB – February 2015

CASL Cure has dedicated itself to being the easiest way to prove your diligence in compliance with CASL.

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The Rolling Deadlines of CASL

Here is an interesting article from The Financial Post about the rolling deadline of CASL.

The only practical solution to the complexity created by these expiring consent types is some form of automation. However, most business systems for managing inquiries and transactions were never set up to track consent as mandated by CASL. System vendors are playing catch-up and even six months after the law was enacted, this can seem like a moving target.

CASL Cure is the easy cost-effective fully automated way to prove your CASL compliance.

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Software makers respond to spam law

CASL Cure was mentioned in the December issue of Lawyers Weekly Magazine in an article about how software makers are responding to CASL. Click on the excerpt to read the full story at Luigi Benetton’s blog.

CASL Cure also professes coverage beyond bulk e-mail marketing. It checks every e-mail sent through a company’s e-mail server against a consent database. CASL Cure president Tim Graham says the product mitigates the risk of being slapped with the legislation’s attention-getting fines.

“If a governing body says to an organization that they sent an e-mail that’s offside, the organization can present a full report to regulators of every outbound e-mail a company has sent,” Graham explains.