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Recently at Siskinds, we’ve written about Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation or CASL[1] (see here and here). In those articles, we described the private right of action contemplated by CASL. Broadly speaking, the private right of action would allow a person affected by a breach of certain sections of CASL to bring an action in court for damages.

While the majority of CASL came into force on July 1, 2014, the private right of action was not scheduled to take effect until July 1, 2017.[2] However, on June 2, 2017—only one month before the private right of action was expected to take effect—the Government of Canada repealed the July 1, 2017 implementation date.[3]

In a press release dated June 7, 2017, the Government indicated that the private right of action provisions were suspended in response to “broad-based concerns raised by businesses, charities and the not-for-profit sector”. The press release went on to state: “Canadians deserve an effective law that protects them from spam and other electronic threats that lead to harassment, identity theft and fraud. At the same time, Canadian businesses, charities and non-profit groups should not have to bear the burden of unnecessary red tape and costs to comply with the legislation.”[4]

This announcement will surely come as a disappointment to frustrated Canadian consumers who are fed-up with receiving unsolicited emails. The private right of action would have allowed Canadians a means of recourse in situations where they were previously powerless. It would have also provided a powerful method of deterring companies from engaging in conduct contrary to CASL.

The Government indicated that it will ask a parliamentary committee to review the legislation. It remains to be seen whether a private right of action will be implemented in the future.

[1] An Act to promote the efficiency and adaptability of the Canadian economy by regulating certain activities that discourage reliance on electronic means of carrying out commercial activities, and to amend the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission Act, the Competition Act, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act and the Telecommunications Act, S.C. 2010, c. 23.

[2] Order 81000-2-1795

[3] Privy Council Office Order 2017-0580

[4] Government of Canada suspends lawsuit provision in anti-spam legislation

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