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$100,000 Paid for Alleged Violations involving Text Messages under CASL

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Privacy and Cybersecurity Bulletin

Following a number of submissions to Canada's Spam Reporting Centre in 2014 and 2015 pursuant to Canada's Anti-Spam Law ("CASL"), the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission ("CRTC") launched an investigation into the text messaging practices of 514-Billets, a company specializing in the resale of event tickets.

The investigation alleged that 514-Billets sent commercial text messages without recipients' consent and without setting out, in the messages or using a hyperlink, the prescribed information enabling recipients to identify and contact the sender. The majority of the messages were requests for consent, which stated: "Would you like offers for discount tickets for [...] " and sometimes included a list of categories of events. Under CASL, requests for consent to send commercial electronic messages are themselves considered commercial electronic messages subject to CASL.

Following an investigation by the CRTC, 514-Billets voluntarily entered into an undertaking (available here) to establish a program to comply with CASL, described as follows:

"This compliance program includes the review and revision of current compliance practices, the development and implementation of corporate policies and procedures designed to ensure compliance with the Act, the delivery of employee training, the implementation of adequate disciplinary measures in the event of non-compliance with internal procedures, the establishment of a thorough complaint monitoring and resolution structure related to CEMs sending, as well as various other monitoring and audit measures, such as mechanisms for reporting to CRTC staff concerning the program's implementation."

514-Billets also agreed to pay monetary compensation in the amount of $100,000, to be distributed as follows: $25,000 to the Receiver General for Canada, and $75,000 to customers of the business (in the form of 7,500 discount coupons with a $10 value each). While a $100,000 monetary compensation may seem high, it is only 1% of the maximum administrative monetary penalty of $10,000,000 that could be awarded per violation under CASL.

The undertaking is the latest in a series of enforcement related activity under CASL - see e.g. New CASL Ruling: CRTC Provides Guidance on B2B Messaging and the Due Diligence Defence - and serves as an important reminder that CASL applies to all commercial electronic messages, which clearly includes email, but also text messages.

For further reading regarding CASL compliance considerations and risk mitigation measures, see the Fasken CASL Survey Report "Bridging the Gaps in Understanding and Compliance" (PDF).



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