For an entire year after Canada’s new anti-spam legislation (CASL) came into force, Rogers Media failed to act on complaints that email recipients were having trouble unsubscribing from the company’s marketing emails. The CRTC fined Rogers $200,000 for several related infringements of the law that occurred between July 2014 and July 2015.
An investigation by the CRTC found Rogers sent commercial emails with “an unsubscribe mechanism that did not function properly or which could not be readily performed by the recipient.” Other infractions included failing to ensure the unsubscribe URL remained valid for at least 60 days, and failing to honour unsubscribe requests within 10 business days.
Fourth CASL penalty
This is the fourth fine the CRTC has issued for violating CASL since March 2015, when the commission fined executive training firm Compu-Finder Inc. $1.1 million. In that case, the company sent commercial electronic messages without appropriate consent. Given the relative size of that penalty, it would appear that the CRTC considers failure to obtain consent a bigger problem than failing to respect the unsubscribe rules.
The other companies that have faced fines are dating site, PlentyofFish.com ($48,000), and Porter Airlines ($150,000). Their infractions also involved unsubscribe failures.
With four substantial penalties in eight months, we can surely expect more in the near future.
Maanit Zemel offers some excellent advice in her post, “CASL one year later – Lessons learned.” She offers that:
- The unsubscribe mechanism is important
- Business-to-business communications are not exempt
- Organizations must understand their options when faced with a CRTC notice
- Managing the risk is better than responding to CRTC enforcement
In brief, besides proactively following the rules set out in CASL, I suggest that organizations that send commercial electronic messages should act in good faith when they receive complaints from recipients. Take complaints seriously, investigate the issues, get legal advice, make any changes required to fix the problem, and notify the complainant(s).
CASL may seem confusing, but it is crucial to understand what it means for your organization and develop a plan to manage commercial electronic messages in compliance with the law.
For a comprehensive understanding of the CASL requirements—and to avoid significant penalties for non-compliance—take a free trial of Finance & Accounting PolicyPro® (FAPP) from First Reference. FAPP includes a chapter and policy dedicated to CASL in its operations and marketing volume, plus a handy CASL decision flowchart. You can try it free for 30 days!