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Rogers gets $200,000 fine for faulty email unsubscribe function

antispamunsubscribefunctionFor an entire year after Canada’s new anti-spam legislation (CASL) came into force, Rogers Media failed to act on complaints that email recipients were having trouble unsubscribing from the company’s marketing emails. The CRTC fined Rogers $200,000 for several related infringements of the law that occurred between July 2014 and July 2015.

An investigation by the CRTC found Rogers sent commercial emails with “an unsubscribe mechanism that did not function properly or which could not be readily performed by the recipient.” Other infractions included failing to ensure the unsubscribe URL remained valid for at least 60 days, and failing to honour unsubscribe requests within 10 business days.

Fourth CASL penalty

This is the fourth fine the CRTC has issued for violating CASL since March 2015, when the commission fined executive training firm Compu-Finder Inc. $1.1 million. In that case, the company sent commercial electronic messages without appropriate consent. Given the relative size of that penalty, it would appear that the CRTC considers failure to obtain consent a bigger problem than failing to respect the unsubscribe rules.

The other companies that have faced fines are dating site, PlentyofFish.com ($48,000), and Porter Airlines ($150,000). Their infractions also involved unsubscribe failures.

With four substantial penalties in eight months, we can surely expect more in the near future.

Maanit Zemel offers some excellent advice in her post, “CASL one year later – Lessons learned.” She offers that:

  • The unsubscribe mechanism is important
  • Business-to-business communications are not exempt
  • Organizations must understand their options when faced with a CRTC notice
  • Managing the risk is better than responding to CRTC enforcement

Conclusion

In brief, besides proactively following the rules set out in CASL, I suggest that organizations that send commercial electronic messages should act in good faith when they receive complaints from recipients. Take complaints seriously, investigate the issues, get legal advice, make any changes required to fix the problem, and notify the complainant(s).

CASL may seem confusing, but it is crucial to understand what it means for your organization and develop a plan to manage commercial electronic messages in compliance with the law.

Try Finance and Accounting PolicyPro for free today!For a comprehensive understanding of the CASL requirements—and to avoid significant penalties for non-compliance—take a free trial of Finance & Accounting PolicyPro® (FAPP) from First Reference. FAPP includes a chapter and policy dedicated to CASL in its operations and marketing volume, plus a handy CASL decision flowchart. You can try it free for 30 days!

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Adam Gorley

Editor at First Reference
Adam Gorley, B.A. (Phil.), is a researcher, content provider and editor. He contributes regularly to First Reference Talks and Internal Control blogs, HRinfodesk and other First Reference publications. His areas of focus include broad human resources issues, corporate social responsibility, corporate governance and government policies, information technology and labour market trends.Read more
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2 thoughts on “Rogers gets $200,000 fine for faulty email unsubscribe function
  • Adam Gorley says:

    Thanks for the comment David!

    Certainly, enforcement (and this type of substantial fine) is likely to be a strong deterrent for other organizations to violate CASL.

    A company like Rogers should definitely know better and do better at responding to complaints, but then again, you seldom hear positive things about their (or Bell’s) customer service.

  • I’m glad to see some enforcement, and especially directed at at large arrogant companies like members of The Duopoly.

    One of these days, vendors are going to realize that making me pay money to receive email, only to be harassed by them with trash email, is *not* going to make me a happy customer.

    As for all the smart companies out there, re-read the conclusions above