Airline hits turbulence from CRTC: pays penalty for violations of anti-spam law

David Elder - 

In the most recently announced settlement under Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation, the CRTC has announced that Porter Airlines Inc. has agreed to pay $150,000 as part of an undertaking concerning alleged violations of the law.

The CRTC’s summary of the undertaking indicates that Porter sent commercial electronic messages:

  • without an unsubscribe mechanism or with an unsubscribe mechanism that was not set out “clearly and prominently”, as required by the Electronic Commerce Protection Regulations (CRTC) (the Regulations).  In this regard, the CRTC noted that some of the messages contained two unsubscribe links, only one of which was functional.  In the CRTC’s view, the unsubscribe mechanism was not clearly set out, as it was not apparent which mechanism was functional
  • without complete identification information required by the Regulations
  • without proof of consent to send commercial electronic messages to some of the recipients
  • to at least one recipient who had previously indicated they wanted to unsubscribe.  The CRTC found that the unsubscribe request was not given effect within 10 business days, as required by the Act
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CRTC shows great interest in US-based robocaller offering low credit card rates - $145,000 fine imposed

David Elder -

For the second time in a month, the CRTC has imposed a penalty against a foreign telemarketer.

In the most recent case, an administrative monetary penalty of $145,000 was issued against Arizona-based Rainmaker Marketing/Maple Accounting for making unsolicited telemarketing calls pitching lower credit card rates.

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Senate Committee releases final report on prescription pharmaceuticals in Canada

Justine Johnston -

On March 10, 2015, the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology (the Committee) released a final report entitled “Prescription Pharmaceuticals in Canada” (the Report). Nearly three years in the making, the Report summarizes the Committee’s four-phase study, earlier reports and recommendations to improve Canada’s prescription drug regulatory regime.


The Senate authorized the Committee to examine and report on prescription pharmaceuticals in Canada on November 19, 2013. The Committee’s mandate was to examine:

  • the process to approve prescription pharmaceuticals with a particular focus on clinical trials;
  • the post-approval monitoring of prescription pharmaceuticals;
  • the off-label use of prescription pharmaceuticals; and
  • the nature of unintended consequences in the use of prescription pharmaceuticals.
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CRTC sends shot across the bow to international telemarketers; issues $200,000 fine to US company selling cruise vacations

David Elder

In a precedent-setting ruling, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has issued its first penalty to a foreign-based telemarketer for violations of the Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules.

The administrative monetary penalty (AMP) was paid by a Florida company as part of a settlement for making unsolicited telemarketing calls via an automatic dialing-announcing device (ADAD) to offer cruises to Canadians, many of whom have their phone number registered on the National Do Not Call List (DNCL). In addition, the company did not possess a valid exemption to the National DNCL

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Canada's Anti-Spam Law: Will Your Business Be Ready?

On February 13th, the Communications Group hosted a breakfast seminar in the Toronto office entitled “Canada’s Anti-Spam Law: Will Your Business Be Ready?”.  David Elder briefed those in attendance on key requirements of Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL), the electronic messaging requirements of which will come into effect on July 1, 2014. Among those requirements, David spoke of the obligation to obtain prior consent in the delivery of commercial electronic messages (CEMs) and the prescribed form requirements for those messages, outlined a number of the key exemptions that may be available to some senders, and reviewed the timeline for implementation of various aspects of the new law.  David also reviewed some of the particular challenges that organizations are facing in implementing the new law and discussed the work that organizations must do to be able to continue to send marketing messages to established contact lists.   

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Budget 2014: new money for broadband, new wireless rules and enforcement tools

David Elder -

The 2014 federal budget, introduced on February 11, 2014, included several items of interest to the telecommunications industry, including plans for revisions to the regulatory framework for wireless services and a commitment of federal funding to extend and enhance the access to high-speed broadband networks in rural and Northern communities.

As part of its “consumers first” strategy, the government has proposed, in its Economic Action Plan 2014, a number of measures intended to strengthen competition in the telecommunications market.  Notably, the new budget builds on an earlier announcement of plans to amend the Telecommunications Act to cap wholesale domestic wireless roaming rates, at least until such time as the CRTC, which is currently examining the issue, makes a decision respecting such roaming rates.

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Government agencies clarify roles under Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation

David Elder and Shannon Kack -

In an effort to coordinate their potentially overlapping mandates, the three agencies charged with enforcement of Canada’s new anti-spam law have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) dealing with cooperation and sharing of information among the agencies.

On January 23, 2014, the Competition Bureau announced that the Commissioner of Competition, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), have signed an MOU regarding the implementation of their respective mandates under Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL).

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Canada finalizes anti-spam regulations; new anti-spam rules in effect July 2014

David Elder -

The Canadian government has finalized long-awaited regulations made under Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL), announcing at the same time that the core of the new anti-spam regime will come into force on Canada Day, July 1, 2014, while other provisions will come into force the following year, and some will not be effective until 2017.

While the final regulations do include a number of last-minute revisions that respond to concerns raised by Canadian businesses, the new regime promises to have a significant negative impact on many businesses that have come to rely on electronic marketing. 

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Canada's "iPod Tax": Is this really the end of the controversy?

Jean-Guillaume Shooner -

In a Customs Notice published on June 28, 2013 (the Notice), the Canada Border Services Agency (the CBSA) has quietly tried to put an end to the controversy over the so-called "iPod tax" that caught the eye of the national media following last March's federal budget. For the reasons discussed below, the Notice will be of particular interest to businesses involved in the importation or sale of electronic and high-technology goods.


As we reported in a previous edition of the Stikeman Elliott Tax Law Update, the 2013 federal budget proposes to eliminate access by high-income, export-competitive countries to Canada's General Preferential Tariff (GPT) program. The proposed changes to the GPT regime will most likely trigger an increase in customs duties levied on goods imported from 72 countries starting on January 1, 2015. The countries affected by the reform notably include the BRIC countries - Brazil, Russia, India and China.

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AODA compliance update: January 1, 2014 requirements

Kathleen Chevalier -

As previously discussed on our labour and employment blog, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, (AODA) is continuously evolving legislation with staggered compliance deadlines.  As of January 1, 2013, organizations were required to achieve compliance with the Customer Service Standard, and the emergency response information requirements in the Employment Standard and Information and Communication Standard.  This post is intended to address those aspects of the AODA that private or non-profit organizations with 50 or more employees (large organizations) must comply with by January 1, 2014.

The Integrated Accessibility Standard requires that large organizations develop accessibility policies and multi-year accessibility plans and consider accessibility in their self-service kiosks, while the Information and Communication Standard mandates that large organizations’ websites and web content meet specific accessibility thresholds.

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SEC comments on corporate disclosures on social media

Kaleb Honsberger -

Earlier this week, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission released a report of its investigation regarding whether Netflix and its CEO, Reed Hastings, violated certain securities regulations prohibiting the selective disclosure of corporate information when Hastings posted a comment on his personal Facebook page regarding the achievement of a corporate milestone.

In doing so, the SEC considered the disclosure of corporate information on social media generally, ultimately finding that its 2008 guidance, which discusses the distribution of information on corporate websites, also applies to corporate disclosures made through social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter. Specifically, the SEC stated that where it is reasonably foreseeable that the recipients (securities professionals and/or shareholders) of such information will trade on the basis of such information, it must be disseminated in a manner reasonably designed to provide broad non-exclusionary distribution to the public. To achieve this, issuers must take sufficient steps to alert investors, the market and the media as to the channels that will be used for the dissemination of material, nonpublic information. As an example, the 2008 guidance encourages periodic reports or press releases to include web site addresses or other information regarding steps investors or the public can take to be in a position to receive important disclosure.

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2011 in Review - Top 10 Technology & IP Law Developments

The arrival of 2012 marked the end of a year filled with numerous developments in technology and IP law. Taking a cue from the Canadian Communications Law blog, we’ve decided that this would be an excellent time to reflect on the past year and review some of its more notable developments. To that end, we’ve put together a list of the top 10 technology and IP law developments from the past year.

Without further ado, here are our picks for the top 10:

  1. Court of Appeal recognizes reasonable expectation of privacy in contents of work computer - In R. v. Cole, a teacher discovered with nude images of a student on his work laptop was found by the Ontario Court of Appeal to have a reasonable expectation of privacy with respect to his personal files on that laptop.
  2. No liability for defamation for basic hyperlinks, says Supreme Court - In a decision that came as a relief to bloggers, tweeters, webpage owners and other providers and hosts of internet content, the Supreme Court of Canada clarified in Crookes v. Newton that merely providing hyperlinks to defamatory content will not lead to liability for defamation.
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SEC releases guidance for the disclosure of cybersecurity incidents

In the wake of a number of high-profile cybersecurity incidents, the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance recently released disclosure guidance on the topic of cybersecurity. While the guidance creates no new legal obligations, it is intended to provide clarity regarding the forms of disclosure that registrants may have to make. In the release, the Division of Corporation Finance recognized that while no current disclosure requirements explicitly refer to cybersecurity, there are a number of existing disclosure obligations that may require registrants to disclose cybersecurity risks or incidents.

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Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 - Integrated Accessibility Standards in force

Kathleen Chevalier -  

On June 3, 2011, the Ontario government released the final Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (the Integrated Standard) under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (the AODA).  The Integrated Standard combined three separate accessibility standards: information and communication; employment; and transportation.  The Information and Communications Standards’ focus is to ensure that information and communications relating to the provision of goods and services are accessible to persons with disabilities, while the Employment Standards set out how organizations are to incorporate accessibility measures for persons with disabilities, both in recruitment processes and during employment.  The aim of the Transportation Standards is to prevent and remove barriers that persons with disabilities may face when attempting to access transportation services.

The Integrated Standard came into force on July 1, 2011 and will be implemented in phases according to its staggered compliance deadlines.

The following is a highlight of the requirements as set out in the Integrated Standard, and is not intended to be a comprehensive summary.  Not all compliance deadlines are referred to, and where the deadline is January 1, 2012, it has been specified .  Otherwise, we encourage you to seek further advice or consult the legislation for particulars.

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A change in the Wind: Federal Court reins in cabinet power to vary CRTC decision on foreign ownership

David Elder

In the latest chapter in the ongoing saga of the eligibility of foreign-backed telecommunications carriers to operate in Canada, the Federal Court of Canada has quashed a decision of the federal cabinet that found that Globalive Wireless Management Corp. (Globalive) met Canadian ownership requirements under the Telecommunications Act

The Court’s decision in the case of Public Mobile v. Attorney General of Canada et al  threatens the ability of a new wireless entrant to operate in Canada, effectively lowers the amount of foreign investment that is acceptable under Canadian ownership rules for telecom carriers and offers new guidance respecting the scope of the federal cabinet to overturn the decision of an administrative tribunal.

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CRTC considering relaxing prohibition on broadcasting misleading news.

In a Broadcasting Notice of Consultation issued on January 10, the CRTC indicated that it is seeking comments for the amendment of several regulations to allow for more leeway in broadcasting false or misleading news. According to the CRTC, it is considering these amendments because of the Parliament’s Standing Joint Committee’s concern that the existing prohibitions on broadcasting false or misleading news is too broad and vague. Fearing that it would not withstand a Charter challenge, the CRTC was urged by the Committee to revise the language of the regulations.

Currently the regulations prohibit the broadcasting of “any false or misleading news” whereas if the proposed language to the amendments were accepted, it would lower the standard to "any news that the licensee knows is false or misleading and that endangers or is likely to endanger the lives, health or safety of the public." In other words, a broadcaster would be permitted to air news that it knows is false or misleading as long as it does not endanger the lives, health or safety of the public.

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