Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation – 2020 Year in Review
In 2020, the Federal Court of Appeal and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission issued important decisions and guidance regarding the validity and interpretation of Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (commonly known as “CASL”).
CASL creates a comprehensive regime of offences, enforcement mechanisms and potentially severe penalties designed to prohibit the sending of unsolicited commercial electronic messages (CEMs), the unauthorized commercial installation and use of computer programs on another person’s computer system, and other forms of online fraud. Following are some key aspects of CASL:
- CASL creates an opt-in regime that prohibits, subject to limited exceptions, the sending of a CEM unless the recipient has given consent (express or implied in limited circumstances) to receive the CEM and the CEM complies with prescribed formalities (e.g., information about the sender and an effective and promptly implemented unsubscribe mechanism).
- CASL prohibits, subject to limited exceptions, the installation and use of a computer program on another person’s computer system, in the course of a commercial activity, without the express consent of the owner or authorized user of the computer system.
- CASL imposes liability on organizations and individuals (including corporate directors and officers) for direct and indirect/vicarious CASL violations. CASL provides a due diligence defence.
- CASL violations can result in regulatory penalties of up to $10 million per violation for an organization and $1 million per violation for an individual. CASL includes a private right of action that is not in force.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is responsible for enforcing CASL’s rules regarding CEMs and computer programs. Since CASL came into force in 2014, the CRTC has taken enforcement action against organizations and individuals who have violated CASL, and issued enforcement decisions and accepted voluntary undertakings (settlements).
Read Bradley Freedman’s bulletin providing a 2020 review of the Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation.
This content has been updated on January 21, 2021 at 14 h 06 min.