THE Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) on Wednesday announced that it has reached an agreement with Gap Inc. for allegedly violating Canada’s anti-spam legislation (CASL). In addition to implementing corrective measures, it has agreed to make a payment of $200,000.
Gap is a US-based global apparel retailer which operates several clothing divisions, including Banana Republic and Old Navy.
CRTC staff issued a warning letter to Gap in December 2018 to inform the company that it had received complaints from Canadians regarding Gap’s electronic messaging practices. In June 2021, in light of continuing submissions from Canadians, the CRTC’s Chief Compliance and Enforcement Officer (CCEO) opened a formal investigation into compliance with CASL.
The CCEO had reason to believe that, between January 2018 and August 2021, Gap sent commercial electronic messages to Canadians without the necessary consent. Gap’s messages also allegedly did not consistently include either an unsubscribe mechanism or an unsubscribe mechanism which could easily be performed – all of which are required under CASL. Upon being made aware of the CCEO’s concerns, Gap proactively made changes to its marketing practices and engaged with CRTC staff to reach a settlement.
Canadians are encouraged to report spam and suspicious practices to the Spam Reporting Centre.
Steven Harroun, Chief Compliance and Enforcement Officer, CRTC, said: “Canada’s anti-spam legislation is essential in today’s e-commerce-driven society. Businesses, both large and small, must comply with CASL rules at all times. Gap fully cooperated with our investigation, voluntarily entered into an agreement and proactively implemented corrective measures to ensure compliance. Cooperation is at the core of our approach to compliance as it avoids lengthy investigations and obtains timely results for Canadians.”
- Persons or entities sending commercial electronic messages (CEM) – such as emails, text messages or messages over social media – must prove that consent was obtained.
- CEMs must clearly set out a mechanism that allows the recipient to unsubscribe from receiving future messages.
- Payments resulting from the CRTC’s investigations are made to the Receiver General for Canada.
- CASL protects consumers and businesses from the misuse of digital technology, including spam and other electronic threats. It also aims to help businesses stay competitive in a global and digital marketplace.
- Since CASL came into force, the CRTC’s enforcement efforts have resulted in payments of more than $1.4 million, including penalties totalling approximately $805,000. In addition, $668,000 has been paid as part of negotiated undertakings.
- The CRTC promotes and enforces compliance with sections of CASL, which prohibit companies from sending commercial electronic messages (spam) without consent, altering transmission data in electronic messages without consent, and installing a computer program on another person’s computer system without consent, among other things.
- The CRTC is committed to protecting Canadians and is continuing to enhance its monitoring to ensure that all entities follow CASL.
- Information collected by the Spam Reporting Centre is used by the CRTC, the Competition Bureau and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner to enforce CASL.