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Retailer Gap Inc. has reached a settlement to pay a $200,000 penalty over allegations that it violated Canada’s anti-spam legislation in its marketing e-mails.

Canada’s telecommunications regulator, which oversees the spam rules, first contacted the U.S.-based retailer in December, 2018, after receiving complaints about Gap to its Spam Reporting Centre. Two-and-a-half years later, in June of this year, the regulator opened a formal investigation “in light of continuing submissions from Canadians,” the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission wrote in a statement announcing the settlement on Wednesday.

“The CCEO [CRTC chief compliance and enforcement officer] had reason to believe that, between January, 2018, and August, 2021, Gap sent commercial electronic messages to Canadians without the necessary consent,” the statement said. The messages allegedly did not always include an unsubscribe mechanism that conforms with the anti-spam rules, the statement said.

Gap co-operated with the investigation, made changes to its marketing practices and reached a settlement with the CRTC, according to the statement.

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A spokesperson for Gap declined to answer questions regarding the changes the company has made to its messaging practices in Canada, or the number of messages sent during the time frame covered by the CRTC’s investigation.

Under the legislation, businesses must be able to prove they have consent to send any commercial electronic messages – including text messages, e-mails, and messages on social media.

Since the anti-spam law came into effect in 2014, its enforcement has led to more than $1.4-million in payments, of which roughly $805,000 were fines; and $668,000 were negotiated, as Gap’s payment was.

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