CRTC Issues $100,000 AMP for SMS Text Marketing

The bear is out from hibernation. Having been strangely silent since June 12, 2017, CRTC has announced a couple of new undertakings recently.

CRTC provides some additional guidance regarding SMS text marketing and gets very creative in setting the monetary penalty. Of the $100,000 AMP, $25,000 goes to Revenue Canada while the other $75,000 is paid to 514 BILLET customers in the form of $10 discount coupons.

It is good to see CASL being enforced. The law is sensible and balanced and will allow us to continue using email and SMS Texts for many years. CASL will help make electronic messaging reliable forms of communication. Left unchecked, businesses collectively would force many recipients to simply stop using email and SMS Text. They would not even bother checking their email inbox because of all the irrelevant email sent to them. Eventually (maybe even now for some businesses) the open rates would be so insignificant, businesses would realize that their intended message (transactional or CEM) are not getting to the target. They would realize that another method of deliver such as direct mail, gets the job done. For more detail regarding the undertaking, read on.

Undertaking: 9118-9076 QUÉBEC INC. and 9310-6359 QUÉBEC INC. (514-BILLETS)
File No.: 9090-2015-00415
Date of the undertaking (signed by all the parties): 15 March 2018
Monetary compensation: $100,000

Pursuant to section 21 of the Act to promote the efficiency and adaptability of the Canadian economy by regulating certain activities that discourage reliance on electronic means of carrying out commercial activities, and to amend the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission Act, the Competition Act, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act and the Telecommunications Act, S.C. 2010, c. 23 (the Act)
Persons who entered into an undertaking
9118-9076 QUÉBEC INC. and
9310-6359 QUÉBEC INC.

Acts and omissions covered by the undertaking and provisions at issue
9118-9076 QUÉBEC INC. and 9310-6359 QUÉBEC INC. have voluntarily entered into an undertaking with the Chief Compliance and Enforcement Officer concerning alleged violations of paragraphs 6(1)(a), 6(2)(a) and 6(2)(b) and non-compliance with subsection 10(1) of the Act, as well as non-compliance with section 4 of the Electronic Commerce Protection Regulations (CRTC) (CRTC Regulations).

9118-9076 QUÉBEC INC. and 9310-6359 QUÉBEC INC. both operate under the name 514-BILLETS to carry on commercial activities related to a ticket resale service for cultural and sports events in Canada, specifically in the Montreal, Quebec City, Ottawa and Toronto areas.Both corporations are responsible for sending commercial electronic messages (CEMs), mainly in the form of text messages (or SMS, for “Short Message Service”), promoting their commercial activities.

Between 3 July 2014 and 26 November 2015, the Spam Reporting Centre (SRC) received submissions related to these CEMs and CRTC staff launched an investigation with regards to these submissions. The investigation alleged that 9118-9076 QUÉBEC INC. and 9310-6359 QUÉBEC INC. sent or caused or permitted to be sent CEMs between 1 July 2014 and 20 January 2016, without the recipients’ consent and without setting out the prescribed information enabling the recipients to easily identify and contact the sender.

More specifically, the majority of CEMs sent by 9118-9076 QUÉBEC INC. and 9310-6359 QUÉBEC INC. were requests for consent, offering the recipients the opportunity to receive future commercial offers. These messages presented the following format: “ Would you like offers for discount tickets for [...] ” while sometimes including a short list of proposed event categories.

According to section 4 of the CRTC Regulations, a request for consent must include a number of pieces of information, including the name, mailing address, and either a telephone number providing access to an agent or a voice messaging system, an email address or a web address of the person seeking consent or, if different, the person on whose behalf consent is sought, as well as a statement indicating that the person whose consent is sought can withdraw their consent. With respect to text messages and other communication methods with a limited number of characters, subsection 2(2) of the CRTC Regulationsprovides that the information may be posted on a Web page that is readily accessible by the person by means of a hyperlink set out in the message.

The information required for a request for consent was not indicated in the CEMs sent by 9118-9076 QUÉBEC INC. and 9310-6359 QUÉBEC INC, nor did they include a link to a Web page where the information could have been found.

Amount owing and summary of other conditions
As part of the undertaking, 9118-9076 QUÉBEC INC. and 9310-6359 QUÉBEC INC. jointly and severally agreed to pay $100,000 in compensation for the alleged violations. A $25,000 amount was paid to the Receiver General for Canada, in accordance with subsection 28(3) of the Act. An additional $75,000 amount will be paid out to 514‑BILLETS customers in the form of 7,500 discount coupons with a $10 value each.

In addition to this monetary compensation, 9118-9076 QUÉBEC INC. and 9310-6359 QUÉBEC INC. have agreed to put in place a compliance program. 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.

This undertaking fully resolves all alleged or potential liability of 9118-9076 QUÉBEC INC. and 9310-6359 QUÉBEC INC. with respect to all CEMs sent by them or on their behalf from 1 July 2014 to the date of this undertaking.

CRTC

 

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