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37th PARLIAMENT, 2nd SESSION

Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration


EVIDENCE

CONTENTS

Thursday, October 23, 2003




¹ 1535
V         The Chair (Mr. Joe Fontana (London North Centre, Lib.))
V         Mr. C.E. Babb (As Individual)

¹ 1540
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Joseph Lawson (As Individual)

¹ 1545

¹ 1550

¹ 1555

º 1600
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Joseph Lawson
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Joseph Lawson
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Peter Hope-Tindall (As Individual)
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Peter Hope-Tindall
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Peter Hope-Tindall

º 1605

º 1610
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Peter Hope-Tindall
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Grant McNally (Dewdney—Alouette, Canadian Alliance)
V         Mr. Peter Hope-Tindall

º 1615
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Jerry Pickard (Chatham—Kent Essex)
V         Mr. Joseph Lawson
V         Mr. Jerry Pickard
V         Mr. Joseph Lawson
V         The Chair
V         Mr. C.E. Babb
V         Mr. Jerry Pickard
V         Mr. C.E. Babb

º 1620
V         Mr. Jerry Pickard
V         Mr. C.E. Babb
V         Mr. Jerry Pickard
V         Mr. Peter Hope-Tindall
V         Mr. Jerry Pickard
V         Mr. Peter Hope-Tindall

º 1625
V         Mr. Jerry Pickard
V         Mr. Peter Hope-Tindall
V         Mr. Jerry Pickard
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Peter Hope-Tindall
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Jerry Pickard
V         Mr. Peter Hope-Tindall

º 1630
V         Mr. Jerry Pickard
V         Ms. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral (Laval Centre, BQ)
V         Mr. Peter Hope-Tindall

º 1635
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Joseph Lawson

º 1640
V         The Chair
V         Mr. C.E. Babb
V         Mr. Peter Hope-Tindall
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Peter Hope-Tindall
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Sophia Leung (Vancouver Kingsway, Lib.)
V         Mr. Joseph Lawson
V         Ms. Sophia Leung
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Sophia Leung
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Sophia Leung
V         Mr. Joseph Lawson

º 1645
V         Ms. Sophia Leung
V         The Chair

º 1650
V         Mr. C.E. Babb
V         Mr. Peter Hope-Tindall
V         The Chair
V         Mr. C.E. Babb
V         The Chair
V         Mr. C.E. Babb
V         The Chair
V         Mr. C.E. Babb
V         Mr. Joseph Lawson
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Joseph Lawson
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Peter Hope-Tindall

º 1655
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Peter Hope-Tindall
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Peter Hope-Tindall

» 1700
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Peter Hope-Tindall
V         The Chair
V         Mr. C.E. Babb
V         The Chair










CANADA

Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration


NUMBER 078 
l
2nd SESSION 
l
37th PARLIAMENT 

EVIDENCE

Thursday, October 23, 2003

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

¹  +(1535)  

[English]

+

    The Chair (Mr. Joe Fontana (London North Centre, Lib.)): Colleagues, we're resuming our committee meetings on a national ID card, pursuant to Standing Order 108(2).

    Today we have three individuals, Mr. Babb, Mr. Lawson, and Mr. Hope-Tindall, who want to make individual presentations.

    I want to welcome you all to the committee. The usual format is that we ask you to keep your introductory remarks and comments to 10 minutes. In some cases, I understand, you've given us a brief. If you have, thank you; and if you haven't, perhaps you could forward it to the committee at some other point. The reason it is for 10 minutes is that some of us, obviously, would like to ask you some questions.

    I want to thank you for taking this opportunity to address the committee on a very, very important matter that we are debating and/or studying. Welcome.

    I'll go in the order that I have here, and I'll go to Mr. Babb first.

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    Mr. C.E. Babb (As Individual): Thank you, Chairman Fontana.

    Good afternoon. My name is C.E. Babb. I live in Burlington, Ontario. I spent the first 40 years of my life in the U.S. and the last 33 in Canada.

    I believe--and I emphasize “I believe”--that (a) a national identity card is not necessary and useful to the Canadian public; (b) costs would go way out of sight; and (c) we Canadians would be sucked into a North American security system dominated by the Americans. The three beliefs are my opinion about the matter at hand.

    I want to congratulate you for all the hard work you've done and are going to do. All that you've had to do is exceedingly complex. Your report, “A National Identity Card for Canada?”, is really splendid. Its author put together stuff that I needed to know, and it's very well written.

    To begin, I'll tell you a brief strange, but pertinent story. I grew up in a small town in Virginia. One day, my brother Neillie Boy, age 15, went to town--this was in about the late thirties--to buy a pair of shoes. He was gone a long time, and when he came home he showed us his purchase. Everyone gasped. Neillie Boy had bought a pair of golf shoes. Golf shoes? After a buzz at home, someone took him back to the shoe store and got his money back. No doubt the sales person had said to Neillie Boy, what colour of shoe do you want, the brown pair or the black pair? Truth is, my brother didn't want and didn't need a pair of golf shoes at all.

    What's the connection? I'm quite concerned that we Canadians are being confronted with the selling-of-shoes approach. Referring to page 19 of your report, the Brits were faced with this: do you want a plain plastic card, or a simple smart card, or a sophisticated smart card? Take a choice, I believe the U.K. is being confronted with. But wait, maybe they don't need a card after all, and this could be.

    If we take another look, we seem to have choices of a metric system, fingerprints, retinal scans, and so forth. I sense that there's pressure to choose at least one of the above, but do we really need any of the three or so choices? Maybe we do, maybe we don't.

    Number six, I am concerned in general with polls, but in particular with that of Ekos: “As with other publicpolicy-related issues, we expect that the debate will be dominated by elites (e.g.,civil libertarians, lawyers, academics, privacy groups, media and oppositionparties), almost all of whom will argue against the adoption of a new card and theuse of biometrics”. This is to me a disgraceful argument about people, including me, who are skeptical of a national identity card. Why do a poll at all if the above kind of argument is put into play?

    Number seven, reference is made on page 12 to your committee being “well aware of the problems of fraudin respect of passport issuance”, and so forth, and that “fraudulently obtained foundation documents is real andcould jeopardize a multi-billion dollar national identity card system”. This is very true and I agree with this sentiment. It seems to me that the whole matter of fraud needs to be corrected before we jump into a complex identity card system.

    Number eight, on page 13 there is a troubling suggestion made by one of your contributors: “that business, rather than government,should bear the costs of such a system. Public funds could be better directed toenforcement agencies, it was argued, rather than a costly and unproven bureaucracy”. This represents the new-fangled and dangerous, to me, public-private partnershipping thing. For any identity card, the public must pay for what we want and not leave this in the hands of private contractors.

    Number nine, it's quite an admission that initial major inroads into the identity card process were made by Mussolini and Franco.

    Number 10, I applaud your comment, “Biometric technology is clearly an important tool in providing for our collectivesecurity; whether a national identity card system using biometric identifiers is the bestoption for employing this tool is still unclear.” I agree with that wholeheartedly. One of my concerns is the prospect of getting all engulfed in mental gymnastics and not quite settling on the notion of whether we need or want a national identity card in the first place.

    Item 11, two things that bother me about your report--and I'll have to admit I'm not sure that I'm right or wrong on this--are, one, very little mention of terrorism, and two, the role of the U.S. My feeling is that terrorism and the U.S are very important in the background and are powerful forces influencing the whole identity card ball of wax, but I could be wrong. But you say this is not to suggest the United States is exerting pressure on Canada.

    Finally, I'm troubled greatly about the lack of appreciation by those in charge federally, provincially, and locally of true public interest and solid public administration. This may sound like I'm insulting you, which I don't mean to do. In the whole realm of information systems federally, locally, and provincially, there are horror stories, horrific examples of agencies taking half-baked measures to institute information systems and losing sight of the objectives they had in the first place.

    That is all I have this afternoon.

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    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Babb, for being part of the general public, from whom we want to hear, because after all, it's you individually we're talking about--not you specifically, but individual Canadians who are going to be impacted by anything we do. I appreciate your comments.

    With regard to the comment on terrorism and the United States, I think you will note in our report that we do speak about our experience in talking to our American counterparts post-September 11 and do ask a fundamental question as to whether or not a national ID card will in fact help in this so-called threat of terrorism that exists around the world.

    I'll only mention one other thing. You talked about the Brits, and I met nine members of Parliament from the U.K. in my recent trip to Bahrain, where in fact they do have a national ID card. It's a very good smart card. But in fact, of the nine MPs, five were against Britain undertaking a national ID card for themselves and four were for. So they're in the middle of exactly the same kind of debate as we are.

    I appreciate your comments, and I'm sure we'll have some questions for you.

    Let's now go to Mr. Lawson. Joseph.

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    Mr. Joseph Lawson (As Individual): Mr. Chair, members of the committee, I'd like to thank you all for the opportunity to appear here today.

[Translation]

    To the French speakers, I hope you will forgive me for making my presentation in English. Thank you.

[English]

    I appear before you as a concerned individual. The issue of the proposed national identity card is one that's of sufficient personal concern that I'd certainly like to add my voice, or feel compelled to add my voice, to those of other Canadians who are arguing against its implementation.

    I won't describe myself as a technical expert. At the same time, I'd like to think that I'm relatively unbiased, in the sense that I'm not here to promote any technical expertise I might have or to try to sell anything to the government necessarily; I'm just an ordinary citizen who watches the news and pays attention to documentaries and current events, and I'm not afraid to speak up when an issue of sufficient importance comes along that I don't want to see it go by without sufficient debate happening on it. The references I refer to are simply newspaper reports and documentaries, in addition to some personal anecdotal experience.

    Somebody associated with the committee publicly described a national identity card as the minister's hobby horse, if I'm correct, and said that it has all the potential makings of a boondoggle. These are views I agree with, and I think it's incumbent upon all Canadians to disabuse this minister of the ambitions that he may have involved in this project. I think there are some very important issues at stake involving Canadian civil liberties, in addition to the potential squandering of public money.

    I'd also like to add that I've had the opportunity to review the committee's interim report, and I think it's excellent. A lot of very important issues have been explored.

    If there's one point I suppose I would like to make and that seems to override everything else, it is that the integrity of so-called entitlement documents, such as passports, the proposed national identity card, and so on, is only as good as the integrity of the foundation documents upon which they are based. I suppose we could couch the whole discussion around that point—at least from my perspective.

    Prior to writing this brief, I took the opportunity to actually phone the minister's office and get a bit of a feeling for what the attitude was in that office. The response I was getting back was, well, with passports, everything is okay now, because they have all of these new technical features. So I think there may be an issue that's somehow being overlooked or ignored.

    As far as I can see, technical features such as watermarks, bar codes, and holograms reduce the likelihood that a passport can be doctored after the fact. However, the technical features do nothing to reduce the likelihood that an entitlement document, such as a passport, may initially be procured by the use of fraudulent foundation documents. Because the integrity of these entitlement documents is only as strong as the foundation documents, the same situation could occur with the national identity card as we have with the Canadian passport. So perhaps it's useful to draw a bit of an example from history in terms of what's happened with the passport.

    One interesting reference was a very revealing and disturbing documentary called Trail of a Terrorist, broadcast on CBC. It was also on PBS, as program number 2004, first airing on October 25, 2001. It's available for $19.98 U.S., plus postage and handling.

    It documented how Ahmed Ressam came into Canada in 1994 on a false French passport, claimed refugee status, proceeded to commit various petty crimes, failed to show up for his refugee hearing, then was able to elude authorities by adopting a new false identity, as Benni Antoine Noris. Mr. Ressam was then able to escape deportation because the police were looking for Ahmed Ressam, not Benni Noris. He applied for a Canadian passport using a forged baptismal certificate, which was facilitated by an accomplice of his, a Mr. Leo Nkounga.

    From what we know about Mr. Leo Nkounga, his name should be carved into the collective consciousness of people involved in researching citizenship and the issues involved with citizenship documentation. In the same manner as many other viewers, I was shocked, astounded, and dismayed by the apparently superficial and inadequate explanations given for how Mr. Ressam was able to acquire his false identity.

    To try to get to the point, if a national identity card were to be implemented, it's possible, in the same manner as was done with the passport, that a terrorist would be able to obtain a national identity card with his own personal biometrics, including an iris scan, or whatever, on that card. Then with his false national identify card, either from personal information stolen from a third party or simply by concocting a fictitious identity—a fake name, birthdate, and social insurance number, and so on, the same way that Ahmed Ressam did it—a terrorist or a criminal could potentially gain access and travel freely to the United States.

    In the television documentary, journalist Terence McKenna detailed the travels of Mr. Ressam to Afghanistan, where the latter furthered his education in the techniques of espionage, assassination, terrorism, and guerilla warfare while travelling on a false Canadian passport. As far as officials were concerned, this was a bona fide Canadian citizen who was able to travel using those means. It's not really clear how a national identity card would prevent the recurrence of a similar event.

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    What's also disturbing is that regardless of some of the changes that have been made in the procedures involved in the issuing of passports, such as new high technology features, in addition to recent changes that have been made in foundation documents, such as in the province of Quebec no longer being able to use baptismal certificates, it appears as though there are still some serious problems with the passport system in the form of outstanding passports that are sitting out there.

    It was documented in The Globe and Mail of April 19:

In the early morning hours of April 13, 2003, police patrolling the west end of Montreal stopped a bearded man on suspicion that he was driving while intoxicated. This man was found to be in possession of a loaded revolver, in addition to $3,500 in cash. This man said he was Guy Turner, owner of a scuba diving school in Costa Rica. He had credit cards, a Quebec driver's licence, and a Canadian passport in the name of Guy Turner. The following day a fingerprint check revealed this gentleman's name to actually be Richard Vallee, a fugitive Hell's Angel, wanted for the killing of a U.S. undercover agent.

It shows that there are still some problems with outstanding false documents that are in circulation.

    The apparent security problems that the government is having with regard to safeguarding individual records, as they currently exist on government databases, may simply be compounded through the implementation of a national identity card. Various examples of compromise of a citizen's personal information can be cited.

    Only a couple of weeks ago, on September 4, it was reported that six computers were stolen from a Revenue Canada office. Pursuant to that episode, about 120,000 people reportedly had their personal information, including social insurance numbers and birthdates, stolen by unidentified parties. There are examples of recent events where the individual's identity has been compromised when it was residing on government computers.

    Assurances provided by government regarding the security of personal information on databases, unfortunately, don't provide a lot of comfort to the average citizen. My point is that, in practice, there are very few fool-proof ways to ensure the integrity of personal information, other than perhaps not to gather it or not to assemble it all at one point in the first place.

    Again, I've referred to the fact that in Ontario, not too long ago, there was a debate about the implementation of a provincial smart card, with the premise that a smart card could be used as an indexing mechanism to gather together information from a variety of databases. I'm afraid the potential this may pose is that in the same manner as credit card information has been misappropriated through double swiping, the information contained on a magnetic strip potentially could be misappropriated through double swiping. This could give someone, like a terrorist or a criminal, whose objective is to steal somebody's identity, the potential to provide access to all the information that's sitting on various government databases. The potential is there for identity theft.

    The implication this has for individuals is rather disturbing, because once the crime of identity theft is committed, it's a crime that only has to be committed once. Providing written or contractual or legislative guarantees, I'm afraid, doesn't provide a whole lot of assurance. It's like trying to close the barn door once the proverbial horse has left.

    If your credit card information, for example, is stolen and somebody starts to run up charges on your credit card, you can plug the hole in the dyke by shutting down your accounts, and then at that point the problem stops. But if somebody misappropriates all your personal information contained on all government databases, the potential is there, as long as you're living and even potentially after you're dead, for a criminal to order up new credit cards and new passports by using this personal information.

    A guarantee or a written guarantee, unfortunately, is not really a lot of use for the average person, because it's not really practical for the average person to go and take the government to court and sue. It's just not going to be a very productive process.

    I'll try to move along here.

    Identity fraud is a growing category of crime. We know it's something that's getting bigger and bigger. It's not going away. There's a potential here for the government to be open to class action litigation from people who've had their identities stolen, potentially through the national identity card.

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    A lot of Canadians object to the use of biometrics on the basis that capturing such personal information is unnecessary and constitutes an unjustified infringement of civil rights. There is obviously the civil rights argument.

    One of the points that were contained in the points for discussion at the website was the suggestion that Canadian citizens might somehow be obliged to carry a national identity card. This is a disturbing point for a lot of people because it implies that authorities such as policemen would be in a position to go up to somebody on the street and demand that individual produce his or her national identity card.

    As I understand the way the law functions at the present time, if a policeman wants to come up to you on the street and stop you for whatever reason, he has to demonstrate probable cause that a crime has been committed or reason to believe you're doing something wrong. The potential situation where a policeman could come up to you for no apparent reason and say “Show me your identity card” takes the existing civil liberty situation and basically turns it on its ear.

    It's understandable if you're driving a car. You have to produce a driver's licence, obviously, because you have a responsibility that's associated with driving a car. But just the idea that all of a sudden.... You can be walking down the street, and if a policeman comes up and asks what you're doing, you can say, “Buzz off. Where's your probable cause?”

    I think there's a fundamental issue here of civil liberties that is potentially being glossed over. The implementation of technology can result in a lot of improvements in the life of the average person, but I don't think we should fool ourselves here. That technology also facilitates the objectives of organizations such as governments that want to have the facility to implement various policies, and corporations that are motivated by profit maximization. Individuals tend to like to keep their information private.

    I have some personal experience with going to the United States. About a year ago I was travelling on a train, got to the border, and the INS asked me to produce identification. I gave my passport. They apparently weren't satisfied with that and they wanted to know where my driver's licence was. I said I had two pieces of government-issued picture ID, wasn't that enough, and they were adamant that they wanted to see my driver's licence. They asked why I didn't have my driver's licence, and I said I wasn't driving; I was taking the train.

    That apparently wasn't enough and it caused me a lot of problems. I was interrogated for half an hour. They were asking all kinds of questions and they had my passport. It disturbed me, because in the past I have certainly been able to travel to the U.K. and other countries just on the basis of a passport. It seemed for some reason that the INS wasn't satisfied with that. They wanted to see a driver's licence. It just makes me wonder.

    It seems to me the potential problems we could have with a national identity card would be the same as what we currently have with a passport, so it makes more sense to devote time and resources to plugging the holes or fixing up whatever problems exist with our current passport system, rather than implementing a whole other basically parallel system of identification that has all the same potential problems and pitfalls associated with it.

    Another point is that the implementation of a national identity card could potentially be extremely expensive. Those points have been explored in committee and have been mentioned by the Privacy Commissioner.

    I would argue that the national identity card is basically a redundant piece of identification. Canadian citizens have passports and driver's licences. Landed immigrants have landed immigrant cards, and they have new high technology features. I would argue that the national identity card fulfills substantially the same purpose as a passport. Because Canadian citizens already have passports, it shouldn't be too much of a hardship for Canadians simply to adopt the passport as the primary means of identification with the INS, for example, when travelling to the United States. Resources of government would be better expended in guarding the integrity and increasing the security of foundation documents and increasing the level of background checks prior to issuing entitlement documents, rather than devising a whole additional set of entitlement documents such as a national identity card.

    When I was on vacation two years ago, I met an employee of the passport office. We were travelling on a train and we started talking over dinner. Because it was after 9/11, I asked the gentleman what sorts of changes had happened in the passport office since that time. I asked if they check 100% of the applications that come through. The employee said that while certainly investigations were performed, a substantial percentage of passport applications are processed and the passports issued without any of the supporting documents being checked. This is obviously hearsay, but I would suggest one area that's certainly worth investigating is whether or not a sufficiently large enough percentage of passport applications are thoroughly checked--i.e., birth certificates verified, guarantors phoned up, and so on--to ensure that on a statistical basis there's enough confidence in the ability to catch any potentially fraudulent applications.

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    That's mostly what I have. One example that was particularly disturbing was the gentlemen, Mr. Leo Nkounga, who came in from Cameroon. He was a resident of Canada for 16 years. He came here in 1984, and he received a bachelor's degree from the University of Ottawa. He committed various crimes. He had more than 20 lawyers representing him over the years. He was the gentleman who was in the business of procuring false passports. He actually got two false passports for Ahmed Ressam.

    He had been in Canada illegally since 1986. He ignored two deportation orders, repeatedly changed addresses, and was able to stay ahead of authorities. He was ordered deported in 1993 and eventually removed in 1998. He was put on a plane to Cameroon. He was back in Canada within six weeks under a new identity. This information is from the CBC news program Disclosure, a program that aired earlier this year.

    The problem that seems to come up recurs in the comment of one U.S. federal prosecutor. He says, “I'm not blaming the RCMP and I'm not blaming Immigration. I don't know what happened, but it appears to an outsider that the left hand did not know what the right hand was doing” in terms of communication between Foreign Affairs, the RCMP, CSIS, and so on.

º  +-(1600)  

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    The Chair: Was that an American person asking that question?

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    Mr. Joseph Lawson: This is a comment of a Canadian CBC documentary journalist taking a comment from a U.S. federal prosecutor.

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    The Chair: Wow, as if the United States knew what their feet and their hands were doing for 9/11. They're always trying to blame us for something. That's okay.

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    Mr. Joseph Lawson: Point taken, sir.

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    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Lawson.

    I know you have some recommendations. I'm sure we're going to have some questions for you. You've gone over your 10 minutes. I can tell that you obviously have given it an awful lot of thought and have done your homework, and I applaud you and Mr. Babb, as private citizens, for taking the time to do this.

    Mr. Peter Hope-Tindall. Is Hope your middle name or is that just a hyphenated last name?

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    Mr. Peter Hope-Tindall (As Individual): It is a hyphenated last name, Mr. Chair.

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    The Chair: I'm curious as to how you got that.

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    Mr. Peter Hope-Tindall: I'll be happy to share that with you. My wife's name, prior to marriage, was Hope and mine was Tindall. We decided to take the very egalitarian form of Hope-Tindall after marriage. Notably, I had no problem changing all of my government-issued ID, but at the time Eaton's did refuse to reissue my Eaton's card, claiming a man could not do such a thing after marriage.

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    The Chair: That's why I asked you, because I knew there was something to this that would lead to that. Thank you for bringing your wonderful assistant with you. She looks as if she's heard all this before.

    Thank you so much, Peter.

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    Mr. Peter Hope-Tindall: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    My name is Peter Hope-Tindall. I work for a privacy consultancy, based in Toronto, called dataPrivacy Partners. I am also a member of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, CPSR, and Electronic Frontier Canada, EFC, on whose behalf Dr. Richard Rosenberg made very capable presentations to this committee earlier this year.

    It's my privilege to appear before the standing committee today. As an immigrant myself to Canada, and a naturalized Canadian citizen, it's a distinct pleasure to appear in front of this committee on citizenship and immigration.

    Here's a little bit about me. I have a computer science background, with quite a few years of working with large database systems. Early on in my career, I developed somewhat of a strength for working with systems that were performing somewhat improperly, poorly designed systems usually. Thus, I tended to be invited to work on larger systems when their performance problems were an issue.

    I'd been involved with biometrics and identification systems since 1997. I used to work for the information and privacy commissioner of Ontario, Dr. Ann Cavoukian, where, among other things, I reviewed a proposed biometric system for the City of Toronto, called CIBS. It stood for client identification and benefit system.

    At the insistence of Dr. Cavoukian---who, by the way, lobbied hard for legislation in Ontario containing what some considered the strongest legal protections for biometrics on the planet--I worked with the system designers and the City of Toronto to propose practical, workable improvements and alternatives to mitigate the privacy concerns related to the system and to ensure compliance with legislation.

    More recently--and, interestingly, mentioned by the other speaker here--I served as privacy architect to the Ontario smart card project. It was my job to identify privacy problems in our proposed system design and to utilize technology in such a way as to address them, a sort of a search-and-destroy mission for privacy problems. We looked at opportunities to build privacy into the system wherever we could, a formal process that I like to describe as privacy by design, the intentional increase of privacy in a complex system.

    Turning our thoughts to national identification and biometrics, it has been suggested by some that a national ID card, together with a form of biometric identification, will solve two very big problems for us here in Canada. First, it will make Canada a safer place to live, helping to protect us from terrorists and those who would harm us. Secondly, it will reduce identity theft, a growing concern for individuals and Canadian businesses alike.

    In response to the terrorism justification, let me suggest that biometrics, and indeed any security system, will never completely protect us from terrorism. Bad people do bad things. Biometrics can never protect us.

    On September 11, all of the terrorists travelled under their own names. This simply wasn't an identification problem. Even if a biometrics system had been installed at every airport in the U.S., and even if it had worked with 100% accuracy, which is unlikely, only two of the terrorists had the potential to be stopped--two who were on the plane that ultimately crashed into the Pentagon.

    In response to the identity theft justification, evidence here in Canada and also from the Federal Trade Commission in the U.S. suggests that this is primarily a financial private sector problem. Let's face it, I know that I haven't had someone go to Revenue Canada pretending to be me and paying my taxes. It just hasn't happened.

    The problem with identity theft manifests itself with credit card fraud, mortgage fraud, the obtaining of false loans, and other types of financial impropriety. Unless we expect Canadians will use a national ID card and biometric every time they use their credit cards, every time they walk into a bank, it quite simply will do very little to address identity theft.

    My computer science background tells me that we need to talk honestly, describe the problem honestly, and honestly analyze proposed solutions. I'm not wise enough to say whether or not biometrics are needed in our distant future, but I do believe that the justifications offered to date are flimsy and incomplete. Some of my more unkind correspondents have even described them as specious.

    Identification is the nuclear bomb of privacy-invasive technologies. It should be used only as a last resort, only when all methods of solving the problem have failed, and then only when its usage is reasonable in the circumstances. It represents a grave threat to our freedom and should be used sparingly by the state because of this.

º  +-(1605)  

    I take the minister's words to heart. He said on October 8 at the biometrics forum that transparency is in order and to respect privacy is in order. I feel that the minister and this committee--and I share my colleague's comments that you authored an excellent interim report, which I think lays out all of the questions that must be answered for this debate to come to a conclusion--should be commended for discussing this issue and for investigating alternatives.

    It's truly wonderful to live in a country where we discuss these things openly and completely instead of making and implementing policy by executive fiat. It protects us from making some of the same mistakes as others have in the past of implementing knee-jerk responses to the threats around us.

    Minister Coderre left us with a challenge during his closing remarks at the biometrics forum. He suggested that privacy isn't as prevalent in the world today as it used to be. I don't agree with that observation, but even if it were to be true, we cannot use this as a justification for the further erosion of privacy. Minister Coderre called upon those who believe that privacy is alive and well to make contact with him.

    I was very surprised to learn in the press that the Ontario privacy commissioner, for whom I used to work, Dr. Ann Cavoukian, was not invited to the biometrics forum. Dr. Cavoukian is quite simply the Canadian expert when it comes to this area. Had she been there, I'm sure she would have explained both biometrics and the vital state of privacy to Minister Coderre. I understand that this committee will be hearing from Dr. Cavoukian on November 4, and I commend her comments for your serious consideration.

    Let me be very clear. The path ahead is a very difficult one. We must resist the urge to choose the easy option, the solution that gives us the appearance of safety at great cost to our personal freedoms. Instead, we must call upon Canadian ingenuity, rely upon Canadian values, and demand a system that goes further, a system that provides tangible benefits to security while at the same time incorporating strong privacy protections.

    Personally, I believe there is a way to implement a biometric system in a privacy-friendly manner, a system that favours authentication instead of identification, a system that respects by being voluntary instead of mandatory, a system that uses the best technologies, has the best statutory protections, and also has independent oversight to ensure the abuses are minimized. It's possible, but it's not easy.

    I'm worried about the present. I'm worried about the world we live in, and I'm worried about the future. I'm worried about a situation where the medicine will be worse than the disease, where the solutions we choose will have a greater impact on our freedoms and sense of self in the problems that they are designed to solve.

    In closing, I'll say my fears become very personal when I think about what kind of future we are creating for our children. As Mr. Chair noted, observing today's proceedings is my eight-year old daughter, Kathryn Hope-Tindall. The decisions we make today will create a legacy for Kathryn in the world of tomorrow. They will determine whether she will enjoy the same freedoms and mobility rights as we do, whether she will be free to express and enjoy her humanity or whether she will be subject to the potential of the surveillance panopticon. Am I worried? Yes, I'm very worried, but I sleep a little easier at night knowing that parliamentarians such as you are searching for the hard answers on our behalf. Because you have chosen the difficult path, I say thank you on behalf of all Canadians. Keep searching for the hard answer, you will find it.

    I'm at your disposal, Mr. Chair, with respect to questions.

º  +-(1610)  

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    The Chair: Thank you very much, Peter, again. It was very impressive. All three submissions were obviously well thought out, provoking questions of ourselves as well as of you and other Canadians.

    Kathryn, do you have anything to add to what your dad said? He was talking about you and your future.

    I noted, though, that she fell asleep during your speech, Peter. I was very intrigued with the speech, but maybe you practised it too many times on her.

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    Mr. Peter Hope-Tindall: I wouldn't venture to say she's a future parliamentarian, Mr. Chair, but I think she's just too shy to--

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    The Chair: You have to watch out, Peter, for those sleepers, and it was nice seeing you at the forum.

    Anyway, all three were thought-provoking presentations, and I'm sure our committee members would want to ask you some questions.

    I'll start with Grant.

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    Mr. Grant McNally (Dewdney—Alouette, Canadian Alliance): Thanks, Mr. Chair.

    Thanks for your presentations. I agree with much of what you had to say.

    Mr. Lawson, I think your argument that entitlement documents are as good as the quality of the foundation documents is fairly key to our discussion here, and the idea that no system is foolproof. I think you all alluded to that, and it's also mentioned in our report.

    Mr. Hope-Tindall, if I could get you to go back to the end of your presentation where you were talking about possible solutions, possible systems, you said you didn't know if you had the wisdom to determine whether biometrics would be the way to go or not, but you did talk about putting systems in place that would be helpful. You talked about not identification but authentification--I think that is the word you used. Could you elaborate on the end part of your discussion for us? Having a computer background and looking at these issues as an expert for a number of years, where do you think we could go instead of going down this road, as laid out by the minister?

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    Mr. Peter Hope-Tindall: Thank you very much for the question.

    There are two different ways to use a biometric system. Technically we refer to them as one-to-end and one-to-many, and we usually refer to that process as identification. I like to think of it in non-technical terms. I see identification, the one-to-many search, as being the customs officer looking through 34 million passports, one at a time, to try to find the right match.

    The other way we can use a biometric system is the one-to-one search. We refer to that as authentication. It says take my biometric card, say on my passport, and compare it to me. It's a much more privacy-friendly search, because you can store the biometric template with the individual. You can allow them to carry it around in their pocket. Not only is there good optics value in saying the individual has control of their biometric, but there's good utility in making sure it isn't abused by someone else.

    In terms of other steps we can take to protect biometric systems, I tend to take a fairly pragmatic approach and say that from a systems point of view our goal is to introduce more privacy into a system. What do I mean by that? More privacy means more elements of self-control, more elements of consent, and fewer elements of usage on the part of other people.

    One subject I've been talking about extensively for the past few years is the idea of developing a metric for privacy, and we've been looking at focusing on three aspects of privacy: identification, observability, and linkability. Identification is the degree to which you're identified in a given transaction. Linkability is the degree to which a series of transactions are linked together. A good example is, if I cross into the U.S., they scan my passport and they can call up on their screen each time I've crossed into the U.S. They've linked each one of those crossings. And observability is whether or not a given piece of information is observable. A great example of that is the recent introduction of the API-PNR database by CCRA. The minister intentionally chose to make some elements of data non-observable. They were removed from the transmission after they were sent to CCRA. I think an example is ethnic meal choice, which was removed from the database. It was made non-observable.

    So I tend to take a fairly technical view and say let's look at those three areas and improve a system as we build it. And certainly I made reference to two other things, the other being the use of voluntary systems instead of mandatory systems, because those methods allow us to truly respect the consent element of fair information practices. A good example would be the CANPASS air program that was also recently introduced by CCRA. I tend to be a troublemaker and privacy advocate, but I think we need to give a fairly wide berth to privacy-friendly programs, and I think that's a wonderful privacy-friendly program. People can choose to enroll, they can choose not to enroll. There is an alternative if they wish to not use a biometric for whatever reason.

    Last, I think it's extremely important--and I think it's why the committee is looking at this--that we have specific statutory protections in place, protections that recognize that biometrics are different from other forms of personal information and are deserving of greater protection and specific criminal sanction for misuse.

º  +-(1615)  

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    The Chair: Jerry.

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    Mr. Jerry Pickard (Chatham—Kent Essex): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    I heard an awful lot of negatives. Do any of you gentlemen see any positives in a national identity card?

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    Mr. Joseph Lawson: I think there's a potential positive there, but my opinion is—

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    Mr. Jerry Pickard: What are those positives?

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    Mr. Joseph Lawson: I think that before we can really start to explore the positives, it seems there is a very significant redundancy factor. I think before the positives can be appreciated, we first have to go back to look over what's currently in place and how we can apply resources to improve what we currently have before we start to examine other forms of identification.

    I'm trying to answer your question in a positive way, but I guess I really don't see much of a positive to it. I see a very large redundancy factor. If we have problems with our passport system, let's fix the existing passport system.

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    The Chair: Mr. Babb, do you have an answer to Mr. Pickard's question?

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    Mr. C.E. Babb: I really don't see positive features of a national identity card, which doesn't mean there are not any, but that I don't see any.

    I guess I'd opt to make sure that what we do is done extremely well. I apologize, as I can't think of a example of that, but it seems to me that the administration of passports, or of any other thing, ought to be extremely well done and maintained before we jump to something as big and extravagant as a national identity card.

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    Mr. Jerry Pickard: I think all Canadians could agree, in any case, with your statement about things having to be done properly and adequately and well. I think that's motherhood, and one that everyone....

    For instance, when I was talking about some good, while this doesn't fit in the federal realm but definitely in the provincial realm, I hear all of the provincial governments from coast to coast having problems with health card identification and fraud. Could a card, such as a national identity card that is secure, help in cases where people take government services they're not entitled to?

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    Mr. C.E. Babb: I have two responses. I hope this answers your question; if it doesn't, stop me and let me know, please.

    First of all, I think the business of fraud in health care systems--and in the case of Ontario, fraud regarding OHIP--is very much over-played. That's my own opinion.

    The second point I want to make is that when Alan Rock was health minister in the days leading up to Romanow, he was on television and seemed to have this wistful, joyous look on his countenance when he was thinking about, or when somebody asked him about, a nationwide health system where people wouldn't shaft provincial governments; they wouldn't take advantage of them, because we were going to have this large nationwide health information system. I think he was appearing with Michael Decter.

    Now, man, I just think the prospect of a nationwide health card is horrendous, and maybe this means I'm saying a nationwide identity card is horrendous. If Ontario can do a good job in its policing of the administration of OHIP and the various other provinces can, that's terrific, and I think that will take us a long way. But to jump over to saying, oh, let's get into a nationwide OHIP card, I think, would be horrible.

º  +-(1620)  

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    Mr. Jerry Pickard: So your view would be that we could do it within a provincial level, but not at the national level.

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    Mr. C.E. Babb: It's so hard to manage. Provinces have a terrible time, as you know, designing, establishing, and getting good value for money out of information systems. They go at it one time, and again, and again, and again. Things happen in Toronto; it's just staggering.

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    Mr. Jerry Pickard: Just leave it there. I think I got where you're coming from.

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    Mr. Peter Hope-Tindall: Can I add something?

    Going back to your first question as to whether there are good elements to a national ID card, I think there are very good and useful elements to the applications that we see a national ID card serving. For instance, using a national ID card to speed border crossings has been talked about.

    Some of the work I've been doing recently with the OECD has been looking specifically at the international travel context for dealing with biometrics and standardization of travel documents. Certainly there are problems to be solved there, and there's an application; there's a need for a solution. I'm not sure whether it needs to be solved by a national ID card issued to every Canadian or whether, instead, it could be solved with a biometrically enabled passport issued only to those who travel internationally.

    Similarly, I'll disagree with my colleagues here, I suppose, and say that there are obviously some good purposes to a national ID card. There will be some people without any form of identification.

    If I pick up a package at Purolator, if I go there and sign at the office and they say, “Let's see your ID”, I always have fun with them now. Usually I'll give them my health card from Ontario, and they'll write down the number. I say, “What are you doing?” They say, “Well, I'm writing down the number”. I say, “Why are you writing down the number?” They'll usually tell me, “It's to protect you, sir, to make sure someone else doesn't pick up your package”. I then say, “No, that's why you're looking at the card; the reason you're writing down the number is because your employer doesn't trust you if there is an audit trail”.

    Then usually when we're finished I tell them that they've just broken the Ontario Health Cards and Numbers Control Act and are liable to a $2,500 fine for taking my health card number.

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    Mr. Jerry Pickard: Do you try to collect it immediately?

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    Mr. Peter Hope-Tindall: Usually.

    But there are certainly those who don't have a driver's licence and in today's world have a difficult time identifying themselves. Some provinces have non-driver drivers' licences to allow people to have some form of identification. Clearly there's a need for some form of identification.

    I don't really know whether that need can be met by the existing documents in place or whether a national ID card is required to fill that void, but by asking the question, we should focus on what problems need to be solved and then turn around and ask, can a national ID card solve them or can something else solve them?

º  +-(1625)  

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    Mr. Jerry Pickard: There are an awful lot of things I would love to ask, but we don't have time. My time period for questions is very short.

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    Mr. Peter Hope-Tindall: As for the second question, regarding health fraud--

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    Mr. Jerry Pickard: It's up to the chair.

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    The Chair: Peter, let him ask his other question, and then you can talk about them at the same time.

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    Mr. Peter Hope-Tindall: Oh, I beg your pardon, Mr. Chair.

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    The Chair: I don't know who he's going to direct the third question to.

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    Mr. Jerry Pickard: I believe--and my beliefs may be quite different from your beliefs and those of others--there are internal things that cards could help us with, with the really great guarantees of good, solid identification. I don't believe all information has to be hung up so that anybody can have access to that information. We have technology that can move miles beyond that.

    But I do believe, too, that Canada, as a partner in the world community, particularly in the G-8, the OECD, or any larger broad organization, has to be moving in parallel or ahead of what we see the general trend will be in the future. Whether we talk about applying certain things today, or five or ten years hence, we need a great deal of lead time in discussing major issues and trying to come up with how we fit into the prospectus of the world being a different place for security 10 years from today. I do believe we are evolving. We're not a stagnant society on an international or a national scale, and that evolution may show some positives.

    Just as Peter said, Canada's security will not be improved by our having national identity cards. That's just not the case. But the world's security may improve if, over time, all the civilized world develops means by which we can identify people who are safe. At that point, we can spend a heck of a lot more time looking at those who don't have proper identification and dealing with them in different terms.

    So we are moving, and how that occurs, how that happens, is part of this debate. Sometimes I feel we're a little narrow-minded in what we're doing on this process of debate--that I've heard up to this point, anyway.

    I don't know if you want to respond to that one, Peter, but you're in a position to deal with those kinds of larger issues. That's the reason I asked the question.

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    Mr. Peter Hope-Tindall: Thank you very much for the question.

    I do speak to a lot of immigration people who say exactly that, that if we can add efficiency to the process, say, of international travel, if we can take the people on whom we've already done the background check and move them quickly through the fast lane, then they can spend more time in secondary inspection with everybody else, the other category. They tend to tell me they feel that this will improve travel security vis-à-vis the international movement of people, and I would definitely agree with you there. I think there's a place for technology to play a role in making things more efficient and allowing the allocation of resources at the entry points into the country to be more effectively targeted towards those who perhaps represent a greater risk.

    I don't take that same reasoning and apply it to the country domestically. I don't think a national ID card, for instance, will make a city or street particularly safer, because the only way to start making decisions like that is to start questioning people as they walk down streets--“Do you belong on this street? Why are you in the city?”--asking all types of invasive questions and applying limits on our fundamental freedoms, which we're not used to in this particular context.

    I want to return to your previous question about the health card in Ontario, because I happen to know a little bit about it from having worked with it previously. There are two elements of fraud, as I see it. One is the use of someone else's card, where someone uses either a fraudulent card or a legitimate card that's just not his or hers and goes and obtains health services.

    I'm not sure how much of a problem that really is. I don't see people lining up, for instance, to have free heart attacks at the hospital using my health card. I think the greater problem, in fact, exists with people who have legitimate Ontario health cards but maybe live in the northeastern U.S. and come to Canada for their health care.

    Issuing a credential, a biometric health card, will only increase the trust that we give those particular people. Once it's issued, the problem isn't a biometric issue. It's not a card issue; it's a rigour of enrolment issue, that there weren't appropriate background checks done at the time of enrolment to ascertain whether these people in fact deserve the credential prior to issuance.

    I think I heard the previous speakers talk about that in the passport context. That's clearly a problem that exists across government wherever a credential is issued.

º  +-(1630)  

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    Mr. Jerry Pickard: Your point is extremely appropriate because it is right on. The rigours that are done in the identification are most important. Now that we do have so many cards on which the rigours weren't done as well because we didn't understand technology moving the way it has, this debate centres around all those issues, and I think it is extremely important.

    Thank you.

[Translation]

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    Ms. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral (Laval Centre, BQ): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    I would like to start by saying good afternoon to the three of you. If there is one issue of concern to all committee members, it is the fact that in our view Canadians and Quebeckers are not adequately informed at the moment about the possible implications of a national identity card. You are right to say that most of the witnesses we have heard had a negative opinion of national identity cards.

    However, we will try to do one thing in our study—namely, change people's perception that such a card would increase security. Since September 11, 2001, everyone has been worried about safety, and people think that something like an identity card would almost definitely provide more protection. I think the committee has the responsibility to put things into perspective and not give identity cards a role they do not have.

    Your positions are quite clear: you want no such card. However, I did notice that you said that the official documents we have at the moment, such as the passport, which is an optional document that people apply for when they need one—in any case it is quite expensive and people do not apply for a passport unless they need one—could certainly be made more secure, to prevent their falling into other hands. There are many examples of that.

    There is one issue that concerns me, even though at one point you mentioned, Mr. Hope-Tindall, that an identity card might be optional. If we have optional identity cards, this would be in keeping with the type of relative control citizens have over these documents. I did not hear you express an opinion about the existence of a central registry. Even if the card is optional or voluntary, if 100,000 Canadians apply for one, is it conceivable that such a card could exist without a central registry?

    If you say that is possible, I will be delighted, because it is the registry that really bothers me more than the card. What disturbs me is the registry and the use that would be made of the information it might contain. It is all very well to hear many people say that at the moment, we really cannot secure the data and all of that, but let us just say that I have some doubts about that. So I would like to hear your views on that.

[English]

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    Mr. Peter Hope-Tindall: Thank you very much, and please forgive the fact that I'm answering in English. My limit of bilingualism is to speak both privacy and security.

    I think your comments about Quebec are very well placed. There is in Quebec, of course, great expertise in dealing with matters related to privacy, and I think we have a great deal to learn from the experience in Quebec, specifically dealing with privacy matters, and with biometrics, too.

    I had the privilege of hearing Madame Jennifer Stoddart speak at the recent biometric conference and I've heard her at numerous other conferences as well. She again reinforced the tremendous amount of oversight that takes place with that type of technology. It's nice, in fact, to see such a strong leadership role both in Ontario and in Quebec.

    In terms of your question related to it being voluntary or mandatory, my comment specifically on the voluntary card was to say I tend to prefer voluntary cards and voluntary uses of biometric systems over mandatory uses. That doesn't mean there isn't a place in society for a mandatory card. I think all those in the field of privacy have recognized that sometimes you need to say that consent isn't really true consent. A good example would be the Ontario health card. I suppose you have the choice whether or not to give the information and apply for the card, but if you don't give the information over, you don't get the card.

    Some of my colleagues have suggested, and it's been fairly well studied and researched by a number of academics, that we can compensate for the lack of true consent with an abundance of transparency and oversight.

    In terms of your question related to a central registry, yes, that is where all of our concerns lie as well with respect to the aggregation and accumulation of information in a central registry, but there are some steps we can take to mitigate those concerns.

    In the case of a biometric system, while we may record the name and card number in a central registry, we could choose to put the biometric only on the card, so that it lives in the wallet of the individual; there's no central biometric database.

    There's a downside. The downside is that if you lose the card, you can't just phone up and say send me another card, because you have to go back, re-enroll, and have your biometric put on the card. But I don't see that as such a big problem. We do that with passports now. If I lose my passport, I can't just phone up and say send me another one. I have to go to the counter. I have to interact, explain what happened to the old one, report it to the police, and go through an application process.

    I think there are a number of steps we could take to make all of these central registry systems less invasive. We can distribute the data. We can also use cryptography, encryption, in very strategic ways to make the data unreadable to certain people.

    One of the things I have proposed in other fora is to use encryption as a method of enforcing due process. What do I mean by that? Well, previously we looked at a biometric system. In a biometric system you very crudely feed in a biometric and out the other end comes a name, or more realistically, because they don't work that well, a number of names that are close matches. You could, instead of outputting a name, output an encrypted name, and then you'd require some piece of technology, some decryption key, to be able to resolve that identity. You could, in fact, take that decryption key and place it in the hands of an oversight body, maybe the Privacy Commissioner, maybe a judge. So every time an agency wanted to identify someone, they'd be required to get a court order, take it to the person, and get the key to unlock that name.

    So there are a number of steps you can take with the system design process to make it less privacy invasive. It won't always solve the problem, but our goal is, of course, to increase the amount of privacy in the system.

º  +-(1635)  

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    The Chair: Mr. Lawson, do you have anything to add to Madeleine's question?

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    Mr. Joseph Lawson: I think the simplest means individuals have of protecting their personal information is that they just keep it compartmentalized, divided. For example, if my health information is in a database at the Department of Health, that's over in one area. My driver's licence is over in another database, somewhere else. My other personal information, financial information, is in another database. The key is that nobody else can independently assemble all of the information together.

    When I open up a bank account at a bank, I don't want an 18- or 19-year-old teller being able to push a button and instantly have my own financial life history in front of her. I would deliberately take some money and put it in another bank to obfuscate the trail. It's not because I'm trying to hide anything, but because my information is private; it belongs to me. And I'm scared--even if all the information isn't centralized in one database--that this card represents a potential mechanism whereby a third party could index it and potentially pull it all together, thereby potentially assembling an identity, basically stealing my identity.

    When somebody steals your identity once, it's gone. Therefore, from a practical point of view, I'm the one who wants to have control over my personal information. I can keep it separated so that nobody can ever assemble it without my express consent.

º  +-(1640)  

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    The Chair: Okay.

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    Mr. C.E. Babb: I have no reaction or comment.

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    Mr. Peter Hope-Tindall: May I take another 30 seconds?

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    The Chair: You're very informative, so sure.

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    Mr. Peter Hope-Tindall: There is one thing that I wanted to add. This usually gets me into trouble when I start talking about it, but I will.

    When governments handle classified information, they distribute classified information to users of classified information. Let's imagine there's a signals intelligence agency that collects an amount of signals intelligence information, and they then supply the information to the users of the information, an intelligence agency, a president's office, or a Prime Minister's office. They take very great care to compartmentalize the information to prevent the aggregation of information so that no one party has too much of that information. They also audit it incredibly. They keep track of who read which piece of paper, who had access to which recording, and who does what with it.

    In some respects, that's the technology that we need for privacy. The technology of classified information is the technology of privacy for secure, compartmental information.

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    The Chair: Sophia.

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    Ms. Sophia Leung (Vancouver Kingsway, Lib.): Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    I'm sorry I was a little bit late.

    We all know that each one of us has at least half a dozen cards, maybe more than that. I'd like the three of you to answer. You are essentially trying to say, if I heard Mr. Lawson correctly, that each card has a function of its own. I'm not even talking about a bank. Any ID card serves a purpose, but it also does not tell the whole story about you.

    Do you find that's more comfortable? Is that what you're trying to say?

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    Mr. Joseph Lawson: That's exactly my point. If people are trying to commit identity fraud, they want to get enough information on you so they can perpetually pass themselves off as being you. The way you can prevent that is when somebody may get certain information about you, but not all of your information. In order to prevent it, I suggest that the individual has to be the one who is in control of his or her personal information.

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    Ms. Sophia Leung: Okay. In reverse, you know that sometimes you have too many cards and they really serve different purposes. Why not, just for debate, have one card for identification?

    For instance, I just got the new CANPASS-Air. It's quite convenient. I went to a bank. I didn't want to give them my driver's licence. I gave them this and they didn't recognize it. They asked what it was and said they could not use it. I told them it had my picture on it. It's an ID card.

    This is why I'm saying that it's inconvenient, because they are not being informed that this is just as good a card. It's very rare; there aren't too many. I just got it.

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    The Chair: What it is?

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    Ms. Sophia Leung: It's the CANPASS-Air from CCRA. When you go out, it's really good. There is an iris biometric. I'm interested in that.

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    The Chair: CCRA. Well, now they know everything about you.

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    Ms. Sophia Leung: I'm just saying that this is very up to date. But because of the lack of information and a lack of education, they said that this is not an ID card; you cannot use that, you have to use a driver's licence. There are a lot of people who don't drive, they walk. That to me is very rigid.

    I'm only trying to be argumentative. Why not have one card?

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    Mr. Joseph Lawson: We could get into a discussion of which institutions should be entitled to have what information about an individual. I think there's another side of the debate that asks at what point an institution has too much information on you.

    We could quote examples where banks and financial institutions have been in the habit of collecting social insurance numbers. They use that as a very convenient indexing mechanism. To open a bank account, you have to provide a credit report even though you don't necessarily want to have any credit at all. The bank will then take this information, and they'll see if your credit profile is good. Then they'll want to sell you a credit card.

    Without getting into too longwinded a discussion, I'm saying there's a risk that at some point we need to provide limitations on the amount of information an organization is entitled to have on you. What happens is that once an institution such as a bank gets into the habit of acquiring information, then they just go ahead and do it by default.

    There are advantages and disadvantages. You're suggesting that there is an advantage in having one card for everything. I'm saying that I don't necessarily want my bank to know everything about me. I feel that it's my information and I should be able to keep it private if I want to. I don't want somebody phoning up at 6:30 at night, when I'm trying to have dinner, trying to sell me a credit card. It's a nuisance.

º  +-(1645)  

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    Ms. Sophia Leung: Thank you.

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    The Chair: I appreciate everything you said, but maybe I could ask you some questions regarding where we're coming from.

    I know you've all indicated a certain amount of non-support for a national ID card, especially as it might relate to central data systems and so on, and the interconnection. I'm wondering, because each and every one of you, in your examples, in one way, shape, or form, indicated that there could be an ID problem in terms of identifying oneself or having someone authenticate who you are, someone who needs to receive some information for you, i.e., a driver's licence, health card, etc. I'm wondering about a national identification card that did absolutely nothing else but prove to someone that you are who you say you are, and that's it, with no connection to a national database, no connection to anything else, no information other than the basic information that could be found in a foundation document.

    My second question to all of you is.... You've all raised a serious problem with our foundation documents, because anything that comes after the foundation document had better be good. All of us had some serious questions about foundation documents, so we've learned an awful lot from you too in the sense that part of our report is not looking at national ID as a plastic card or something, but how do we identify ourselves? It may very well be that part of our report may want to say that we need to fix our foundation documents. Some people don't even know what those are. There are different provincial foundation documents, and there are national foundation documents, and there are those things that are voluntary, and so on.

    Let me get back to basics on two fronts. One is how do we fix the foundation documents? What should we do? Should we call everybody in and make sure we verify who they say they are? The whole question of biometrics is secondary to the question of national ID, and that's what the forum says. Therefore, how do we fix the foundation documents? What suggestions could you make? Do we create a new foundation document by which we in fact have the integrity in the system? The second one, of course, is consideration of a national ID card only for the purpose of identifying oneself, to be the national standard but do absolutely nothing else.

    The third point is whether or not the biometric--which is just a tool; it used to be a photograph and now it's a magnetic strip, and now it's an iris on the CANPASS that Sophia has--would be used only, again, to verify who you say you are, one on one, as opposed to checking it off. This would be very important. I'd ask each of you to answer that.

    The other thing I heard at the forum--Peter, you might want to address this, and I was taken by this--is that once we decide what the problem is that we're trying to solve, then we essentially get the vendors and the technology people, like you, Peter, and others who are very involved in these kinds of things, to design a card that will in fact solve the problem that we wish to solve in the first place, or have identified. We're not even at the point of identifying what the problem is. Some people say we're trying to protect Canada. Are we trying to protect Canada, or are we trying to protect each individual in Canada? Are we trying to protect the world? Are we trying to protect ourselves from people who are coming into Canada, or are we trying to protect ourselves inside of Canada? So there's a whole range of issues, and that's why we appreciate what you're saying.

    Maybe you can answer about the foundation documents in the first place, each one of you, and tell me how you can improve them. Your experiences are that in some cases, if you didn't have your driver's licence, and somebody said, who are you, and how can I trust that you are who you say you are...? I think, Mr. Babb, you can give us an experience because you in Virginia, with the cultural differences between the U.S. and Canada, may have something to do with this whole debate.

    Let's start with you, Mr. Babb.

º  +-(1650)  

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    Mr. C.E. Babb: Okay, I'll respond.

    I'm not a fan of the United States. I'm not a fan of their government or our government. I'm still a U.S. citizen. From the standpoint of bulldozing all over the place, that's a prejudice I have. I don't think it's going to lead to answering your question, but it just bothers the heck out of me how they conduct themselves. It's very worrisome. I'm just afraid their influence here will be far too great.

    That doesn't answer your question.

    I think we work with what we have, the foundation documents, and make them better, more useful and so forth. I can't see a single-purpose, nationwide identity card being useful. I think it would be terrifically non-cost-effective. I think it would cost a tremendous amount of money for the benefit taken.

    Last, to deal with some of your question, Peter worries me. He knows so much, but I wouldn't want him in charge of making the decisions about what to do.

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    Mr. Peter Hope-Tindall: I wouldn't want to be in charge either.

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    The Chair: That's our job.

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    Mr. C.E. Babb: All right, good for you.

    That's the best I can do.

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    The Chair: Mr. Babb, have you ever had your identity stolen, and secondly, do you feel threatened in terms of identity? Have you ever had a problem with identity in this country or in other countries?

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    Mr. C.E. Babb: Yes, it's been stolen and lost, both.

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    The Chair: But it was easily resolved, I suppose.

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    Mr. C.E. Babb: Yes.

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    Mr. Joseph Lawson: In terms of foundation documents, I think the key one is obviously the birth certificate. I think the solution there isn't necessarily anything overly dramatic, it's simply in terms of administrative integrity and ensuring that there are minimum uniform standards from province to province for technical features on the birth certificate, such as watermarks and bar codes, etc., to ensure that a certificate that's been issued is authentic, that it hasn't been tampered with. Also, in terms of administration, it's also to ensure that the person to whom the replacement birth certificate is issued is in fact the person they say they are.

    That, I think, is probably the most key document.

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    The Chair: How do you do that when it's a three-day-old baby or a wrong registration? Would a biometric help on a foundation document?

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    Mr. Joseph Lawson: Well, administratively, have someone phone up just to make sure the person who's getting the document is who they say they are.

    Again, my gut instinct says the problem you're going to have is with people ordering up replacement birth certificates--somebody who's 25, 30, 40 years old phoning up or writing in to fraudulently get a replacement certificate. You want to make sure those people are in fact who they say they are.

    To respond to your question about the ID card, just the pure ID, the issue I see there is redundancy and the cost factor involved with that.

    I had my identify stolen once. Somebody was at my bank...an additional automatic debit started to appear at one time. Somebody was fraudulently charging a rental TV to my account. It took me three months to get it shut down, and the bank's attitude was, sorry, it's not our problem. Anyway, somebody got a free rented TV from me for about six months. I didn't realize it, because I assumed it was a service charge.

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    The Chair: You must do an awful lot of banking with those kinds of service charges. Hey, listen, it's happened to me too. It's not a problem.

    Peter.

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    Mr. Peter Hope-Tindall: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    I think I will cut up your question into three parts and say that there are three different problems.

    One is the document itself in terms of its immunity to being forged or altered. We have a great deal of technology in that area. You may have heard that recently Alberta has introduced a new driver's licence. It uses the same type of technology that's being used on the maple leaf card, the permanent resident card. I like to call it tombstone technology, because instead of printing on the card with ink, they actually use a laser to carve your name, address, and picture in there. That makes it very hard to alter or to fake. So that's one problem we know how to solve, or that at least we know how to get an advantage over the bad guys on right now. That may change in the future as the bad guys get more sophisticated and can make a new maple leaf card or make a new high-tech card.

    The other part of the problem, which I spoke about earlier, is the rigour of the enrolment process for those foundation documents. I will say from personal experience that when we went to get a long-form birth certificate for Kathryn in Ontario recently, we had a great deal of difficulty obtaining one because we needed to supply on the application form the exact time of birth, the doctor who was in the room--who was a standby doctor because our regular doctor wasn't available--and we had to fill out a great deal of information, because there's a great deal of rigour now in the Ontario birth certificate issuance process subsequent to September 11. There's also a requirement for a guarantor, and you may note that on the new passport applications there is an enhanced requirement for further information. In fact, I was listed as a reference for someone and I was quite impressed that the passport office took the time to call and verify that I did in fact know the person.

    Those are all very easy steps we can take to improve the process, and quite frankly, as one of the other speakers suggested, if there are some applications that aren't being properly attended to, that sounds like a problem for the passport office, for instance, to fix.

    I would prefer, for some of these important documents, for birth certificates and credentials, to see a great deal of rigour in the enrolment process, something along the lines even of a mini security check. Anyone who works on Parliament Hill, of course, has to go through the enhanced reliability check. Maybe there is a mini enhanced reliability check that we could do to make sure people who are applying for passports are requesting them legitimately. Once they are cleared, you then get rid of the information that you accumulated on them in the background process.

    In terms of how we can take that to documents such as birth certificates for a three-day-old baby, it can't really be done. I think we need to focus on the other documents, on the reissuance of birth certificates in later life, and on the two foundation documents under the purview of Citizenship and Immigration, namely, the Canadian citizenship card and the maple leaf card, the permanent resident card. Those can both be made very fraud resistant--the maple leaf card already is--and they both can be made very rigorous in the issuance process.

º  +-(1655)  

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    The Chair: On the citizenship card, what would you think about the idea of having to issue to everyone in the country, regardless of whether or not an individual was born here or came here, a citizenship card? Because, as you know, the only people who are getting citizenship cards now...and I think you can apply for one if we were born here.

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    Mr. Peter Hope-Tindall: You absolutely can apply to establish Canadian citizenship.

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    The Chair: Ought that to be a de facto ID card, with the permanent card, the maple leaf card, being the secondary card?

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    Mr. Peter Hope-Tindall: I would turn your attention, Mr. Chair, to the element of privacy related to consent and say that from a privacy point of view we're very concerned with the degree to which the individual has a choice to do this and the degree to which one is forced to do this. I, of course, have a citizenship card. I am a naturalized Canadian citizen. I became a citizen in 1991, and although it has a horribly old and outdated picture of me that looks probably, depending on what your point of view is, more scary or less scary than I look now, and it's still under my old name, Tindall, it is a card I have. I don't really use it for anything at all, except for getting my passport. Perhaps that's a great use for it. The rest of the time it lives in a safety deposit box. No one has any right to demand that I show it to him or her. But if I wish to show it of my own free will, I can to establish my identity. That sounds like a reasonably privacy-friendly use of it.

    I become very concerned when we talk about forcing everyone to obtain a card, and I become very concerned when we then allow people to demand that number because it can be used as a unique identifier to link a person in multiple situations, in the same way as perhaps that the social insurance number has become used that way.

»  -(1700)  

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    The Chair: The last question I have for you is whether one should identify the problem first and then design the technology, as opposed to trying to buy something off the shelf and think this is going to fit.

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    Mr. Peter Hope-Tindall: Quite frankly, I would suggest to you that the technology vendors will come and say, hey, have we got a system for you; we can sell you a biometric system and a newfangled identification system, and boy, won't it solve all your problems? It will cost only $10 billion, but that's only an estimate.

    I suggest that the appropriate course of action is to define the problem and to look for effective solutions. Quite frankly, they may be more expensive because they embrace privacy, but that's the cost of living in a free and democratic society.

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    The Chair: You've been most generous with your time and your thoughts, and letting us know the privacy of your thoughts is very, very important to us.

    Again, I want to take the opportunity, on behalf of the committee, to thank each and every one of you for making such great submissions. That's very helpful as we try to ask the questions of Canadians and, more importantly, try to find the answers. Hopefully our final report, when that comes, will reflect the great Canadian values that you've all touched upon, which has made me feel very, very good.

    Thank you so much. Take care.

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    Mr. C.E. Babb: I appreciate very much your taking your time to listen to us and react to us. It was extremely gratifying.

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    The Chair: Well, that's what parliamentarians are supposed to do.

    Thank you so much.

    The meeting is adjourned.