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The anti-spam law poorly understood, recognizes the CRTC


Justine Montminy

May 25, 2018 07:00

The law canadian anti-spam legislation remains unclear for many. The Council of broadcasting and telecommunications commission (CRTC), is responsible for its implementation, recognizes that it is poorly understood and that many of its terms remain unknown.

L’Association du marketing relationnel hosted the director of the implementation of the e-commerce of the CRTC, Neil Barrat, may 3, in Montreal. He spoke of the inquiries and complaints received by his agency up to date in line with Bill C-28. The Journal of insurance was present.

“Almost four years after its entry into force, it was realized that there was very little information in the public. There is still a lot of work to do. We have made a dozen presentations of information for the purpose of increasing our transparency. We want to ensure that companies understand their obligations and understand how to Bill C-28 the key, ” said Mr Barratt.

On July 1, 2017 marked the launch date of the parliamentary review and the end of the transition period of the application of the law canadian anti-spam legislation. It regulates every form of sending commercial messages, but also the alteration of data transmissions, as well as the installation of software.

Several grey areas

At the level of the sending of commercial messages, the law requires three elements : obtaining consent from the recipient ; the identification of shippers ; and the establishment of an unsubscribe mechanism adequate and effective.

The CRTC has deemed it good at the conference of the AMR to recall some points poorly understood by the public, in order to prevent a future investigation, or a violation of the law. The first point discussed was that of different brand names. When there is consent from the client, this consent is always done with the legal person. Therefore, if the consent is withdrawn, it is valid for all brands associated with such entity, recalled Mr Barrat.


For what is the use of third-party services, the CRTC warned the companies. “Many companies do business with third parties to send their messages. If a violation of the law is done via the sending of a message by a third party, the company remains liable for these violations “, said Mr Barratt.

Several questions from the audience remained without a precise answer, in particular those relating to exceptions relating to marketing B2B (business to business). The CRTC has admitted that it was very difficult to prove a business relationship between two companies without a contract and that it would be better to get the clear consent rather than play on this exception.

In addition, the CRTC has affirmed that the law considers that for each new transaction, the contract business is renewed. For example, if a client withdraws his or her consent by cancelling your subscription to a newsletter of a company and he redid a purchase from the same company, the company is authorized to send commercial electronic messages, such as the implied consent is renewed. The client will then have to unsubscribe again.

Win the trust of customers

According to the CRTC, the compliance leads to a positive impact on the relationship of companies with customers. “The data show that people should be more open emails sent by companies, because they have asked to receive them,” said Mr Barratt.

It has also reiterated that the CRTC monitored the market regularly to ensure compliance. He adds that it is important for any company to have its compliance policies in writing. “If we ever land in your company, this is not enough to say that you have the principles to ensure compliance with the law. There must be evidence. A robust program is always the best proof in the case where you request information or ask questions “.


According to the CRTC, the type of program varies according to the companies. For a smaller company, it is sufficient to have a document compiling the client with the following information : who provided the consent ? When ? How ? Since when was the date of the business relationship ? The CRTC also suggested including in the document the proof of purchase and any opt-out request, if applicable. “A good compliance program can enable you to defend in case of an investigation,” added Mr Barratt.

There is a link between the visibility of the act and the number of complaints. “When we do the publicity, when the media speak about the law and when we make decisions, we are receiving more complaints,” admitted Linda Ko, the manager of the implementation of e-commerce to the CRTC, also present at the conference of the AMR.

Until now, the CRTC has reported a total of 1.2 million complaints and provided minutes of meetings with administrative monetary penalties of nearly 2 million dollars (M$). The sanctions are severe, they can reach$ 1 Million for individuals and$ 10 Million for businesses.

However, complaints do not necessarily lead to an investigation or fines. “We are doing the monitoring. We will send a warning letter that explains the obligations of businesses “, explains Dr. Barrat. The CRTC conducts ” between 5 and 10 formal investigations “, he added.

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