CRTC issues largest ever penalty to an individual for sending messages without consent
March 29, 2021 – Ottawa-Gatineau – Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)
The CRTC’s Chief Compliance and Enforcement Officer today announced a penalty of $75,000 to Scott William Brewer for violating Canada’s anti-spam legislation (CASL). It is alleged that Mr. Brewer sent hundreds of thousands of commercial emails without prior consent.
Between December 2015 and May 2018, Mr. Brewer allegedly sent over 670,000 emails without the consent of recipients. Mr. Brewer’s spam campaigns focused on affiliate and web marketing and included the promotion of four online casinos that would compensate him through their affiliate programs for new customers. None of the evidence gathered during the investigation indicated that Mr. Brewer obtained the necessary consent.
The CRTC’s investigation confirmed that Mr. Brewer sent out a very high volume of emails over a short time span, before anti-spam defenses could respond and block the messages. This is a known as a hailstorm spam campaign.
Canadians are encouraged to report spam and suspicious practices to the Spam Reporting Centre.
“Spam campaigns, such as those carried out by Mr. Brewer, are disruptive to Canadians and undermine their confidence in electronic commerce. Obtaining consent is a fundamental principle of Canada’s anti-spam legislation. The penalty issued today demonstrates that individuals are just as accountable as businesses and must respect this principle.”
- Steven Harroun, Chief Compliance and Enforcement Officer, CRTC
As part of this investigation, a Notice of Violation was issued to Mr. Brewer. The Notice of Violation includes the $75,000 penalty.
Persons sending commercial electronic messages – such as emails, text messages or messages over social media – must prove that consent was obtained.
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 totaling 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.
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