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Data Privacy & Security

Government of Canada repeals July 1, 2017 implementation of private right of action under Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL)


On June 7, 2017, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (formerly known as Industry Canada) announced that on June 2, 2017, the Government of Canada, through an Order in Council, repealed the July 1, 2017 implementation of the private right of action under Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation ("CASL").

The private right of action, had it come into force on July 1st, would have allowed private lawsuits (including class actions) to be filed against individuals and organizations for alleged violations of CASL.

Many organizations across various sectors and industries have been advocating for some time now for the Government of Canada to put the brakes on the imminent implementation of the new right.

In respect of this suspension, The Honourable Navdeep Bains (the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development) said:

“Canadians deserve to be protected from spam and other electronic threats so that they can have confidence in digital technology. At the same time, businesses, charities and other non-profit groups should have reasonable ways to communicate electronically with Canadians. We have listened to the concerns of stakeholders and are committed to striking the right balance.”

Under CASL, a review of the provisions and operation of CASL must be undertaken, after July 1, 2017, by any committee of the Senate, of the House of Commons or of both Houses of Parliament that is designated or established for that purpose.

While Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada has indicated that it will ask a parliamentary committee to review CASL, the Government has not given any indication whether the repeal of the private right of action will be permanent or whether the Government may try to re-introduce a private right of action sometime in the future.  This issue will, presumably, be a part of the parliamentary review.

It is important to note that even though the private right of action has now been repealed, CASL's other provisions do remain in force, and regulators continue to actively enforce the legislation.

As noted in the recent b:Inform article titled "Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL): A Statistical Analysis from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)", the Canadian Spam Reporting Centre continues to receive a steady stream of complaints concerning CASL.

It remains imperative that organizations continue to implement and maintain appropriate CASL compliance programs.

Contributors - Arlan GatesDean Dolan, Yana Ermak,  J. Andrew Sprague,and Frances Chen