Online dating site Plenty of Fish has been fined $48,000 CAD by the CRTC (the Canadian equivalent of the FCC) for failure to comply with Canada's new anti-spam laws, according to CBC. The popular online dating site, claiming over 90 million members worldwide, was founded and is still headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia, by Markus Frind in 2003.
Allegedly, multiple complaints received by the CRTC indicated that PlentyOfFish Media Inc. sent multiple emails to online dating customers without a clear mechanism to unsubscribe, a requirement under the new anti-spam legislation which became law on July 1, 2014.
According to a press release from the CRTC, "Plentyoffish Media had allegedly sent commercial emails to registered users of the Plenty of Fish online dating service with an unsubscribe mechanism that was not clearly and prominently set out, and which could not be readily performed, as required by the legislation. The emails sent by Plentyoffish Media notified users of services available through their registration to the dating site. The alleged violation occurred between July 1, 2014 and October 8, 2014."
Plenty of Fish updated their emails to reflect the requirements of the legislation, and "will develop and implement a compliance program to ensure that its activities are compliant with Canada's anti-spam legislation."
While primarily a slap on the wrist to the online dating site (BBC News reports that Mr. Frind's personal wealth alone is over $200 million USD), the fine represents one of the few major results of the anti-spam legislation thus far. It is certainly the first time Canada's anti-spam legislature has affected such a large, international company. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, online dating is now big business, with each successful site or app spawning hundreds of copies trying every trick in the book to get their share of that pie, and effective anti-spam laws are an important part of combating online scams.
Many critics are still skeptical of the actual utility of the law; Canada doesn't even figure in the top 10 countries which are sources of spam, and many feel that fines are more likely to harm small businesses and entrepreneurs than actually prevent spam on a wider scale, including online dating startups without the financial power of Plenty of Fish. Still, it represents a small step toward laws in Canada that acknowledge the evolving digital landscape we all now live in, and as Spamhaus notes, the countries with the worst problems are usually those which have poor anti-spam laws or none at all.
In the long run, this judgment won't strongly affect Plenty of Fish or other online dating sites, but it serves as an important demonstration that the CRTC will act on complaints made under the new anti-spam laws.
[Image courtesy of the CRTC]