CRTC issues $250,000 in anti-spam fines against Datablocks and Sunlight Media

Canada’s telecom watchdog has used Canada’s anti-spam law (CASL) to issue fines against companies for aiding in the installation of malware.

This is the first time that CASL has been used to regulate what the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has dubbed ‘malicious online advertising.’

According to a July 11th, 2018 media release, the CRTC fined Datablocks and Sunlight Media $100,000 and $150,000 respectively for “allegedly aiding in the installation of malicious computer programs… through the distribution of online advertising.”

Sunlight Media allegedly accepted anonymous clients who used the company’s services to distribute malware, while Datablocks provided Sunlight Media’s clients with the necessary software to place ads that contained malware.

“As a result of Datablocks and Sunlight Media’s failure to implement basic safeguards, simply viewing certain online ads may have led to the installation of unwanted and malicious software,” said Steve Harroun, the CRTC’s chief compliance and enforcement officer, in the same July 11th media release.

“Our enforcement actions send a clear message to companies whose business models may enable these types of activities. Businesses must ensure their commercial activities do not jeopardize Canadians’ online safety. ”

Datablocks and Sunlight Media both offer online advertising services. According to the CRTC, Sunlight Media utilizes Datablocks’ platform to act as a broker between advertisers and publishers.

Both companies have 30 days to inform the CRTC whether they want to file written representations to the Commission, or whether they want to pay their respective penalties.

The Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam Act, commonly referred to as CASL, came into force on July 1st, 2014.

CASL serves as a way for the federal government to regulate spam practices, while also holding companies accountable for sending spam messages.

Source: CRTC