Airline hits turbulence from CRTC: pays penalty for violations of anti-spam law

June 29, 2015

In the most recently announced settlement under Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation, the CRTC has announced that Porter Airlines Inc. has agreed to pay $150,000 as part of an undertaking concerning alleged violations of the law.

The CRTC’s summary of the undertaking indicates that Porter sent commercial electronic messages:

  • without an unsubscribe mechanism or with an unsubscribe mechanism that was not set out “clearly and prominently”, as required by the Electronic Commerce Protection Regulations (CRTC) (the Regulations).  In this regard, the CRTC noted that some of the messages contained two unsubscribe links, only one of which was functional.  In the CRTC’s view, the unsubscribe mechanism was not clearly set out, as it was not apparent which mechanism was functional
  • without complete identification information required by the Regulations
  • without proof of consent to send commercial electronic messages to some of the recipients
  • to at least one recipient who had previously indicated they wanted to unsubscribe.  The CRTC found that the unsubscribe request was not given effect within 10 business days, as required by the Act

The alleged violations occurred over the period commencing 1 July 2014, the date on which the core anti-spam provisions of the Act came into force, and ending 16 April 2015.

In addition to agreeing to the monetary payment, Porter has also agreed to revise its anti-spam compliance program, and has apparently already made changes to bring its electronic mailing list into compliance.

The undertaking confirms that the Commission is continuing to take enforcement action for messages sent commencing back to the first days that the new law came into force.  It also serves as a cautionary tale to electronic marketers to ensure that any commercial electronic messages sent have working unsubscribe mechanisms, and that there is no possible confusion to recipients as to the availability of these mechanisms or the manner in which they can be exercised.  Finally, the undertaking stresses the importance of meeting the sender identification requirements set out in the Regulations, which – somewhat paradoxically for electronic communications – require displaying a postal mailing address, along with a web address, email address or telephone number.

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