Canada’s Anti-Spam
Legislation (CASL)

Actions carried out by the CRTC between
April 1, 2021 and September 30, 2021

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Enforcement Highlights

CRTC looks at the development of a network-level blocking framework to limit botnet traffic and strengthen Canadians’ online safety

Botnets facilitate some of the most damaging cyber-attacks, including ransomware and identity theft. These attacks cause significant harm to Canadians, businesses and organizations that provide critical services such as hospitals, schools and government bodies.

To address this issue, in January 2021, the CRTC launched a consultation on the appropriateness and need for TSPs to adopt blocking techniques within their networks, including what safeguards would be necessary to ensure privacy, transparency and effectiveness.

Between April and August 2021, the CRTC received over 40 submissions from a variety of parties including Canadian citizens, the telecommunications industry, academics, and some Government of Canada departments and agencies with Cyber Security mandates.

To find out more on the CRTC’s examination of measures to block botnet traffic to help prevent cyber-attacks and help to protect Canadians, consult Compliance and Enforcement and Telecom Notice of Consultation CRTC 2021-9.

Enforcement Measures

Enforcement measures infographic
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  • 253 Notices to Produce
  • 16 Preservation Demands

Payments and Penalties Under CASL

Since CASL came into force in 2014, enforcement efforts have resulted in more than $1.4 million payable. Of this amount, approximately $805,000 is from administrative monetary penaltiesFootnote 1 and $668,000 from negotiated undertakings.

Complaints to the Spam Reporting Centre (SRC)

Between April 1, 2021 and September 30, 2021

Over 154,406 complaints to the Spam Reporting Centre

That’s 5,939 per week.

Approximately 4,556 of these complaints were submitted using the online form, which represents only about 3% of total complaints. The remainder of complaints were sent by email at spam@fightspam.gc.ca.

The CRTC encourages Canadians to use the SRC’s online form to provide as much information as possible about potential CASL violations. The information provided by Canadians is an essential part of the intelligence the Spam Reporting Centre gathers on spam and electronic threats. Each report is valuable and helps us to enforce CASL.

Canadians need to stay vigilant to protect themselves against different sources of spam.

Sources of spam (reported through online form)

Sources of spam chart
Sources of spam legend
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  • Email: 57%
  • Text message (SMS): 30%
  • Instant message (IM): 1%
  • Unspecified: 12%

Reasons why Canadians complain

Reasons why Canadians complain chart
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Complaint reasons and percentages

  • Lack of consent: 88%
  • Indentification of sender: 44%
  • Deceptive Marketing Practices: 39%
  • Other: 23%
  • Software and malware: 4%

Note: The total does not add to 100% since Canadians can select more than one category for a complaint.

Per month complaints about consent highest in September 2021

Looking at submissions from Canadians to the SRC over the last 6 months, per month complaints about consent issues were at their highest in September 2021.

Complaints about consent chart
Complaints about consent chart legend

Note: Statistics derived from spam reports filed through the SRC online form.

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Year-Month Consent for messages Deceptive Marketing Practices Identification Other Software and malware Grand Total
Apr-21 743 304 327 139 26 1,539
May-21 735 306 310 149 22 1,522
Jun-21 678 252 257 151 14 1,352
Jul-21 631 196 213 101 20 1,161
Aug-21 669 204 257 133 50 1,313
Sep-21 823 292 321 165 48 1,649
Grand Total 4,279 1,554 1,685 838 180 8,536

Between April and September 2021, more than 71% of the messages reported to the SRC were related to affiliate marketing or legitimate businesses selling or promoting the sale of a good or service.

Graphic of the top five categories of affiliate marketing messages

The top five categories of affiliate marketing messages reported to the SRC relate to: (1) Food, Drug and Health; (2) Online Shopping; (3) Financial; (4) Dating; and (5) Leisure and Gambling.

Graphic of the top five categories of commercial messages

The top five categories of commercial messages reported to the SRC relate to: (1) Education, Training and Employment; (2) Business to Business; (3) Online Shopping; (4) Financial; and (5) Leisure and Gambling.


Outreach and engagement activities are a critical means to help legitimate businesses, including marketers, email senders, and other small and medium businesses, with their compliance efforts under CASL.

The CRTC Compliance and Enforcement team participated in 4 virtual engagement activities with companies, associations and organizations to raise awareness about the application of CASL to unsolicited communications.

The CRTC continues to leverage online platforms such as social media, webinars and podcasts to disseminate compliance information and guidance to support businesses.  At the end of May 2021, the CRTC added 3 new educational videos to its YouTube playlist intended to provide guidance to small business owners. The videos of the Spam and Telemarketing - A recipe for success playlist provide clear tips on how to comply with Canada’s marketing rules, including Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation and the Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules. 

Collaboration with International Partners

The CRTC has also forged partnerships with organizations across the globe in order to better fulfill its mandate. The CRTC is part of the Unsolicited Communications Enforcement Network (UCENet). Members from over 26 countries work together to promote international spam enforcement cooperation and address problems relating to spam and unsolicited telecommunications.

Agreements with International Partners world map
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Canada (CA)

Memorandum of Understanding:

Enforcement Collaboration:

United States (US)

Memorandum of Understanding:

Enforcement Collaboration:

United Kingdom (UK)

Memorandum of Understanding:

Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)

Japan (JP)

Memorandum of Understanding:

Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications

Australia (AU)

Memorandum of Understanding:

Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)

Enforcement Collaboration:

Australian Federal Police (AFP)

New Zealand (NZ)

Memorandum of Understanding:

Department of Internal Affairs (DIA)

Useful Resources

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