The CRTC has issued an administrative monetary penalty (AMP) against a Toronto man for 10 alleged violations of Canada’s Anti-Spam Law.
According to the CRTC notice of enforcement, William Rapanos committed 10 violations during the third quarter of 2014. The emails in question appear to have been text-only email messages offering flyer printing and distribution services, and contained pricing information and a link to a website. Some of the messages also did not contain an unsubscribe mechanism and the recipients had not provided consent to Mr. Rapanos to send them offers via email.
The CRTC received a total of 58 complaints from 50 different people, and ultimately determined a total of 10 provable violations. The complaints arose from three campaigns:
- 35 CEMs sent on 7 and 16 July 2014, which resulted in four violations of the Act
- 15 CEMs sent on 22 September 2014, which resulted in three violations of the Act
- 8 CEMs sent on 15 October 2014, which resulted in three violations of the Act
The AMP was set at $1,500 per violation, for a total fine of $15,000.
So what makes this case so interesting?
Mr. Rapanos is a private individual, not a corporation. The server in question was located in his home, and it doesn’t appear that there is a separate business address. This is the first time that a private citizen has been issued a violation notice and suggests the approach that the CRTC will take in establishing penalties in these cases. It may also be the first case where a home-based business has been targeted.
The number of emails in question is also quite small compared with other situations where CASL fines have been levied, although it is unclear whether the CRTC is referencing the total number of emails sent or the total number of complaints received. There is also a comment that “the emails all contained the same or substantially similar language” but it is not clear whether the messages were in fact sent one at a time from a private inbox with minor variations between individual messages, or whether a bulk mail software was used and the differences exist only between campaigns.
This judgment reinforces the fact that no organization is too small, no volume of email sends too insignificant to escape the attention of the federal regulator.
But most importantly, Mr. Rapanos’ approach to business development is not unlike the approach taken by many small businesses, and should sound the warning bell for sales managers and small business owners across the country.
Do you ever send emails to people introducing your business or your services?
- you must provide a way for people to “unsubscribe”
- you must identify yourself, your business, and anyone on whose behalf you are sending the message
- you must provide a way for the recipient to contact you
- you must have consent BEFORE you send the message