The CRTC collaborates with international partners to fight illegitimate online marketing activities

News release

March 21, 2018 – Gatineau – Ottawa – Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)

The CRTC announced today that it took part in a global initiative to fight illegitimate online marketing activities. The CRTC worked with 10 agencies from six countries to identify more than 200 international websites as having potential issues.

This initiative was conducted through the Unsolicited Communications Enforcement Network (UCENet). Its objective was to identify entities that are engaging in online marketing activities that could be considered illegitimate, non-compliant, unfair or fraudulent. As part of that sweep, UCENet partners reviewed over 900 websites and examined more than 6,500 consumer complaints related to affiliate marketing.

Preliminary results of the sweep have shown that:

  • Of all the websites visited, over 200 were flagged for further action by the group.
  • Participating countries that have an opt-in unsolicited communication regime noted that some affiliates did not appear to obtain the consumer’s consent prior to sending electronic communications.
  • Some agencies observed the prevalence of misleading advertising in some segments of the affiliate marketing ecosystem.
  • The sweep also uncovered affiliate marketing programs that appeared to be compliant with the requirements of unsolicited communication regimes.

The sweep has allowed the CRTC to increase its understanding of the affiliate marketing ecosystem and adapt its outreach and enforcement activities related to Canada's anti-spam legislation accordingly. The CRTC continues to conduct research on this industry and on the entities that have raised concerns.


“Fraudulent marketing activities affect Canadians every day. Whether they are committed in Canada or around the world, they need to be stopped. The CRTC is working with its international partners to protect Canadians from non-compliant commercial emails and improve their confidence in our communications system.’’

- Steven Harroun, CRTC Chief Compliance and Enforcement Officer

Quick facts

  • In June 2016, the CRTC announced a partnership with 10 enforcement agencies around the world to fight unlawful spam and unsolicited telecommunications. This group has become the Unsolicited Communications Enforcement Network (UCENet).

  • Affiliate marketing is a common business practice in electronic commerce where a company sells its products to consumers through third-party marketers (‘affiliates’) who promote and advertise for a commission. This practice is legitimate when operated within legislative and regulatory boundaries.

  • Under Canada’s anti-spam legislation, anyone sending commercial electronic messages to Canadians must ensure they have the recipient’s consent before sending the message, include proper identification information and provide an unsubscribe mechanism.

  • Canadians are encouraged to report suspected violations to Canada’s anti-spam legislation to the Spam Reporting Centre.

  • The Spam Reporting Centre is managed by the CRTC and gathers information on spam and other electronic threats including commercial electronic messages sent to email addresses.

  • The data received from online public submissions helps support the enforcement activities of the federal agencies responsible for ensuring compliance with Canada’s anti-spam legislation.

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