CRTC enters into MOU with FTC on spam and unlawful telemarketing

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As we have noted in previous posts (here and here), the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has repeatedly highlighted its work with its international counterparts to combat spam and unlawful telemarketing, among other communications “threats”.

On March 24, CRTC Chairman Jean-Pierre Blais and US FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez signed a Memorandum of Understanding addressing these threats:  the MOU between the US Federal Trade Commission and the CRTC on mutual assistance in the Enforcement of Laws on commercial email and telemarketing.  The MOU states that the two organizations have already “worked closely in connection with numerous investigations and enforcement actions relating to unsolicited commercial email (spam) and automated telephone calls (robocalls); and have collaborated on promoting technological solutions to robocalls”.

The laws administered by the agencies – the FTC Act and CASL, respectively – both  contemplate sharing information with foreign enforcement agencies under certain conditions.  The new MOU recognizes that it is in the FTC’s and the CRTC’s “common public interest” to extend support across the border where this will support investigation and enforcement efforts, including:

  1. cooperate with respect to the enforcement against Covered Violations, including sharing complaints and other relevant information and providing investigative assistance;
  2. facilitate research and education related to unauthorized telemarketing and unauthorized telephone calls;
  3. facilitate mutual exchange of knowledge and expertise through training programs and staff exchanges;
  4. promote a better understanding by each Participant of economic and legal conditions and theories relevant to the enforcement of the Applicable Laws; and
  5. inform each other of developments in their respective countries that relate to this Memorandum in a timely fashion.

Accordingly, the FTC and CRTC will share information, provide investigative assistance, and coordinate enforcement against cross-border violations that both sides agree are priority cases.

The announcement is timely in at least one sense.  Industry stakeholders in Canada have complained that the CRTC’s publicized enforcement activity to date has focused largely on Canadian companies that have made mistakes in implementing CASL’s complex compliance requirements.  There has been relatively little visibility around the CRTC’s efforts to “drive spammers out of Canada” – one of CASL’s primary objectives.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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