Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise here today to speak to Bill . We will probably study Bill C-47 either later today or tomorrow. Bills C-46 and are very closely related to each other and, for those watching us, have to do with cybercrime.
It appears that the Canadian government has finally entered the 21st century and wants to address the very serious problem of cybercrime. Before going into the details, I would like to give some background. There was a convention, if we can call it that, known as the convention on cybercrime. That convention was the subject of many meetings. In fact, there were 27 different versions of the convention on cybercrime before the final version was drafted and signed by many countries, including Canada, the United States, Japan, South Africa, and even the Council of Europe. All the countries that signed the convention undertook to introduce one or more bills to implement the convention on cybercrime. That is precisely what the government is doing here today.
We can examine the technical details of the bill in committee. Yes, the Bloc Québécois agrees that Bill should move forward and be referred to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. This will also probably be true for Bill .
Bill should allow police forces to adapt their investigative techniques to modern technologies like cellphones, iPods, the Internet, as well as social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter that link today's online world. This bill will give police forces access to such technologies.
When a bill like this is introduced there is one thing the government and parliamentarians must not forget: the bill must not infringe on basic rights even though we are trying to properly equip our police forces to deal with crime. All of this is being done in response to what happened in 2001. Even though we know that work on cybercrime began in 1995, the events of September 2001 had a substantial impact. That is when governments realized they did not have the means to intercept certain communications. Before and after 1995, and even before and after 2001, surveillance was used. It was very easy to realize you were being followed. We are not talking about a James Bond movie here. We are not nearly as sophisticated as the show 24, where the characters are totally equipped to deal with crimes of this nature. We needed to find tools to help deal with cybercrime and make them available to our police forces.
Cybercrime is very subtle and very insidious. It is everywhere today. The members opposite, especially those from the Conservative Party, talk about the luring of children or what some people attempt to do with computers, namely slowly but surely approach children to have sexual encounters.
It is much more than that. I am not saying that the luring of children is not a serious crime, far from it. This is an extremely serious crime. There are also other crimes that are much more subtle, including identity theft and the planning of major crimes. Just look at the London subway bombings. They were planned right here in Canada. Somewhere near Toronto, attacks were being planned with global targets. Here in Canada, the police thanked an individual whose assistance was instrumental in foiling a crime about to unfold in Great Britain.
Cybercrime has become a global phenomenon. Today, we cannot simply say that cybercrime only occurs in Canada, Quebec, or Ottawa and the surrounding region. Cybercrime is a global phenomenon and it has to be addressed globally. That is the purpose of Bill and Bill , which we will study in the coming days.
There is something worrying me. We will have to carefully study the intrusion into the personal life of an individual. I hesitate to say this because the line between the intrusion into the rights of an individual versus the protection of society is increasingly blurred. We will have to keep a very close eye on this as we study the bill. We must ensure that citizens do not run the risk of being more vulnerable to an intrusion into their private lives. I do not think that anyone in this House is against adapting legislation to the new realities in technology and crime.
I believe that it is abundantly clear that criminals, especially those working on the Web, are brilliant for the most part. Anyone who can use such tools as Facebook or Twitter and the whole Internet is intelligent enough to hatch a good plan for a crime.
We are very close to that reality when we see someone using their cell phone, sending coded messages and providing information over the Internet. We have to follow this up. I will give the example of the transfer of “illegal” funds to tax havens. I spoke about this when debating Bill and Bill . Today, criminals who use computer technology are increasingly smart. Thus, police forces must be equipped to deal with them. That is the objective of Bill .
Technologies do not just benefit criminals and are also available to police. The Bloc Québécois believes that it is important and rather urgent for police to be equipped to detect not just crimes that have been committed, not just those about to be committed, but those that are being planned. We have to be one step ahead of the criminal planning a crime and able to intervene before an offence is committed. That is the objective of Bill .
However, we must avoid allowing the police to use their investigative tools to gain access to a very large amount of information—it goes that far—but we must also monitor some peoples' activities on the Internet to learn more about their private lives. It goes far beyond listening to telephone conversations. This bill goes much further than that.
However, we must find a balance between the fundamental rights to privacy and safety. That is what this is all about. Is the right to privacy more important that the right to safety? That line is easily crossed by police officers or unscrupulous individuals.
We must remember that some police offers were convicted of having used the computer system of the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec to monitor a spouse's new friend and watch over the movements of that individual. Those police officers were convicted because they had taken private information.
We must be very careful, and this will probably be the most important debate over the next few months. The Ligue des droits et libertés has raised some concerns. We must be careful, we must be prudent, we must be aware, and we must realize that there could be some slip-ups. When it comes to truly addressing security concerns, is protecting the rights of individuals less important than protecting society? That is a debate that will have to be held when the time comes to examine the bill in committee.
It is clear, and I would like to share a little about what the Ligue des droits et libertés has said. According to the Ligue, the bill constitutes an unprecedented invasion of privacy. It has brought up the following points. The government is presenting its bills as a way to make the necessary changes to traditional investigative powers for electronic surveillance to adapt to new communication technologies. But there is no comparison between the information transmitted through a telephone conversation and information that circulates freely.
Moreover, unlike telephone conversations, which leave no trace unless they are recorded, modern communications leave a trail in computer memories that can be detected long after the fact. That is a very important point, and I hope that nobody in this Parliament or in Canada or Quebec believes that once an email has been sent, it is over and done with. Unfortunately for them, I have bad news, because when people send an email using their computer or even their BlackBerry, there is always a trail. Their hard drives retain information about every email ever sent, and that information can be retrieved. That is where we find ourselves in a grey area.
But the Ligue des droits et libertés adds that everything we do in our everyday lives could come under police investigation. They will have access to lists of the websites we visit, emails we send and receive, credit card purchases, purchases of all kinds—clothing, books, winter gear—our outings, our movements abroad and in Canada, gas purchases, on-line and ATM banking transactions and medical information. Naturally, the list might get even longer.
We have to be prudent. I do not necessarily share all of the concerns expressed by the Ligue des droits et libertés, but they are urging us to be prudent. As parliamentarians, we have to use our judgment. We have to tell police forces—the RCMP, the Sûreté du Québec, the Ontario Provincial Police and other police services in large municipalities—that there are lines that must not be crossed once Bill is passed.
I firmly believe that one thing is for sure: police forces must have the tools they need to deal with crime in the 21st century. Yes, armed robberies and bank heists are still happening, although less frequently according to the latest statistics. We still hear about corner store hold-ups and all kinds of other assaults. But there is now a new kind of crime called cybercrime. We have been looking for ways to fight it since 1995. We have to make sure we have the tools to do that.
I listened closely to what the Ligue des droits et libertés said, and I feel that we have to be careful. The Ligue says that the bill provides little or no protection against unreasonable seizures without a warrant. The authorities will be able to obtain subscriber data even though the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act recognizes that this information is private. This is provided for in Bill , but the authorities could still obtain this information. Without a warrant and on the basis of a suspicion, an officer will be able to ask a service provider to keep the contents of all your communications. It is like asking the post office to photocopy all your mail in case something should happen. I feel that people may go a bit too far sometimes, but this serves as a reminder that we must be cautious. I do not necessarily share the views of the Ligue des droits et libertés, but as politicians, we have to listen to both sides of the story.
The Ligue des droits et libertés also says that with a warrant obtained on the basis of a mere suspicion, an agent will easily be able to compel the service provider to turn over all its lists and so on. I believe that this is a bit dangerous, and we will have to address it when this bill is studied in committee. The Ligue added that with a warrant, which can be obtained on the basis of reasonable grounds to believe—less stringent conditions than for wiretapping—the content of your communications could be intercepted.
Certainly, what the Ligue des droits et libertés is saying is important. It is calling on parliamentarians to be careful when we print and pass legislation, but especially when we apply it. Once the law is passed, it may be too late to amend it. I will say one thing right now: police forces must be equipped to deal with cybercrime and 21st century crime. It is clear that crime prevention is one promising solution. The police will need to be able to prevent such crimes, and that takes equipment.
Obviously, the authorities have to try to uncover a plot before it is carried out. Once a crime has been committed, it is a little late to intervene, even if the criminals are brought to justice. In closing, if the authorities can thwart the crime before it is committed, I believe that this bill is a step in the right direction.
Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to represent the good people of Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission and to speak in strong support of Bill , which proposes changes to the Criminal Code, the Competition Act and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act in order to bring criminal offences and investigative powers up to date with 21st century technologies.
Bill is an important piece of legislation. We are all very well aware that technology has been changing rapidly over the last couple of decades. Some my age or thereabouts have a hard time keeping up with the technological changes. These changes have changed the way that crimes have been committed and the type of evidence that police need to gather when investigating such crimes. Developments in technology have changed the nature of the crimes themselves, as well as the nature of the investigations required to combat them.
In many ways these changes have also made the world a smaller place. It used to be the case that overseas communication took days or weeks, sometimes even longer than that.
It was not all that many years ago, Mr. Speaker, you might recall that I lived in the Philippines for a number of years. I lived several hours north of Manila, the major centre. The only way to get information back and forth to my family and friends was the old-fashioned way, by letter. We did not have a telephone where I lived. In fact, there were no telephones in the town. People had to go to Manila.
The only way I could make a phone call was to drive to a neighbouring slightly larger town about an hour away, stand in line, wait for a telephone booth, hope the operator could connect me at the appropriate time and then pay quite a bit. Now in the Philippines I am told that per capita there are more cell phones than in Canada. Anywhere people go there now, they are able to be connected throughout the world. That is what has been happening.
Money can be moved from a bank in Singapore to an account in Switzerland by a person in Saskatchewan, of all places, without any trouble at all. These technologies have opened up a world of possibilities for Canadians and Canadian businesses, but they also create new challenges for law enforcement and criminal justice. Because of the global nature of these challenges, global solutions are needed.
Investigators face some of the most significant challenges brought about by these technologies.
Before I talk about the international nature of the problem we face and how this bill responds to it, let me talk in more general terms about cybercrime.
What is cybercrime? There is no universally accepted definition. It has had a number of definitions. It certainly includes crimes perpetrated over the Internet but also any crime in which computer-based technology is used, things as relatively harmless as spam, some would say, to much more important and serious things such as the exploitation of children.
Internet child pornography, for example, has become a $2.6 billion industry. The latest RCMP estimates indicate that there are 60,000 identified IP addresses in Canada accessing child pornography. People may be surprised to know this but the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children documented that 85 children are reported missing every hour, not every day, every week or every month, but every hour, totalling more than 750,000 missing in a year. Many cases involve luring schemes facilitated online.
There is identity theft, which is very serious. In fact, in 2006 almost 8,000 cases were reported in Canada.
There is securities manipulation where wrong information is put online and the price of securities, stocks and so on go up or down in relation to that information. The markets are manipulated in that way.
There is the serious threat to critical infrastructure. It is estimated by some that the next threat to national security will be either the disruption of electronic commerce or the creation of an emergency situation.
All of these things are very costly. There are social costs certainly, but there are economic costs as well. We do not know how much these things cost. There really is no way to add them all up.
A study released earlier this year by McAfee estimated that hacking, Internet fraud, denial of service attacks and high tech mischief cost the world economy more than $1 trillion a year in lost business revenue, which is a huge cost. There is no reason to think these things will decline so we need to take them very seriously.
Some of this material was taken from a website put out by the Global Centre for Securing Cyberspace, interestingly based in Calgary, Alberta. Its mission is to proactively protect people, property and commerce from cyberspace-enabled attacks through the facilitation of cross-sector collaborations with law enforcement, government, industry and academia. There are some very helpful resources on that site that I would recommend to my colleagues and to anyone listening to this debate. People will find some very helpful things on the site if they are at all involved with the Internet or the computer.
Some of these attacks in cyberspace, cybercrime, can come from outside Canada. Our authorities need to be able to co-operate with authorities in foreign countries to investigate these crimes and to bring the criminals to justice. In order to make this co-operation effective, we, along with our international partners, need to have available a standard set of tools capable of facilitating these investigations in the new technological environment.
We believe that the ratification of the Council of Europe's Convention on Cybercrime and its additional protocol on xenophobia is an essential component of enabling these types of internal and international investigations. This convention is the only international treaty that is specifically designed to provide the legal tools to help in the investigation and prosecution of computer and Internet based crime, as well as more general crimes involving electronic evidence.
In conjunction with the necessary amendments in Bill to the Criminal Code and the other acts, ratification of the convention would put Canada in a position to effectively conduct modern investigations with an international component. Ratification of the convention would also assist foreign signatory countries by allowing them to access the Criminal Code's new investigative tools in appropriate cases.
I would like to read some paragraphs of the preamble of this convention so members will get a sense for what it is all about. It states:
|| Convinced of the need to pursue, as a matter of priority, a common criminal policy aimed at the protection of society against cybercrime...;
|| Conscious of the profound changes brought about by the digitalisation, convergence and continuing globalisation of computer networks;
|| Concerned by the risk that computer networks and electronic information may also be used for committing criminal offences and that evidence relating to such offences may be stored and transferred by these networks;
|| Recognising the need for co-operation between States and private industry in combating cybercrime and the need to protect legitimate interests in the use and development of information technologies;
|| Believing that an effective fight against cybercrime requires increased, rapid and well-functioning international co-operation in criminal matters;
And this is an interesting one:
|| Convinced that the present Convention is necessary to deter action directed against the confidentiality, integrity and availability of computer systems, networks and computer data as well as the misuse of such systems, networks and data by providing for the criminalisation of such conduct, as described in this Convention...
And so on.
It is an important convention. Canada was involved in the development of it, along with the Council of Europe. It does a number of important things, each of which plays a part in enabling investigations.
The first thing it does is it requires signatory states to adopt a minimum set of standards for computer-related crimes. For instance, the convention requires that countries criminalize illegal access to computers. This is basically a hacking offence. It also requires the criminalization of illegal interception, data interference, system interference and misuse of devices.
Now, to be clear, most of those activities are already criminal offences in Canada. The few gaps that remain would be closed with the rest of the amendments proposed in the bill that we are debating today.
The types of crimes we are talking about here are exactly the kinds of crimes that do not respect orders very well, and that is why we need co-operation from our global partners to fight them. We need to ensure our partners are not letting their own citizens hack into Canadian computer systems. We also need to ensure that we all have similar laws to ensure we can prosecute crimes in Canada that have connections to other countries.
The convention covers other types of crimes committed using computers. For instance, the convention prohibits the distribution of child pornography over the Internet, a crime that we have been working hard to fight here in Canada. The convention's additional protocol on xenophobia and racism also broadens the scope of the convention to cover criminal behaviour relating to hate, racism and xenophobia disseminated over computer systems.
We need to do our part and encourage other countries to join us in these important fights. Ratifying the convention and its additional protocol is a necessary step in that direction.
There is another side to what the convention does, which is equally important. The convention also creates a set of investigative tools that every state party will need to fight the kinds of crimes we have just been talking about. These are really important investigative tools in a world where data can be deleted in the blink of an eye. The convention requires that all its signatory states have this kind of mechanism in place. This will be of significant help to our international investigations.
As one can imagine, cross-border investigations are more complicated than domestic ones, which means that they can go more slowly. In order to ensure that vital data in a foreign country is not lost, we need to work with our partners so we will all have such tools available to us.
The convention would also require that we adopt a number of other important investigative powers and that these same tools be adopted by our partners. This common approach to the investigation of computer crimes will speed up the efficiency and effectiveness of cross-border investigations immeasurably.
The convention would also create some new ways of co-operating on these investigations. For example, it would require that each country designate a point of contact that would be available 24/7 to give immediate assistance in these kinds of investigations. This type of mechanism would vastly increase the efficiency of cross-border investigations, which can be quite complicated to conduct.
As members can see, the ratification of the convention on cybercrime is a vital component of Canada's fight against cybercrime and its ability to investigate crimes in the modern world. The amendments in Bill would go a long way toward addressing these issues, but to make our fight against these crimes truly effective, we need to recognize their increasingly global nature.
Together, ratification of the convention and the amendments in this bill would ensure that we can respond to some of the difficult challenges that new technologies currently pose to the criminal law and criminal investigations.
I encourage all members in the House to give Bill their full support.
Mr. Speaker, I am happy to be speaking in support of Bill , which seeks to provide necessary amendments concerning evidence. In many ways, this legislation is a long time coming. I believe that it allows policing authorities and our court system to operate in the 21st century. Criminals are committing their crimes in the present tense. We cannot live in the past.
My history with this bill began earlier this year when my community was reeling from a spate of gun crimes. It seemed that every other day yet another shooting had claimed the life of someone. In the past, most citizens believed that gang violence only affected those who were involved in gang culture. There was less public outcry because of this.
How that changed over the course of this year. Not even innocent women, children or senior citizens were safe from a stray bullet or from feeling the grief of losing a loved one to this terrible increase of killings in our community. I needed to know what could be done, so at that time I spoke to Kash Heed, the current minister of public safety and solicitor general in British Columbia, along with my friend and former colleague, Mr. Wally Oppal, and MLA John van Dongen, who was the minister of public safety and solicitor general in British Columbia at that time.
All three of them were very frank about how they felt about the current legislation. They had lived and breathed these issues in the courtroom and they have listened to the police officers on the front lines of this battle in British Columbia. I have spent a great deal of time listening to these front line officers and first responders as well. I knew that the recommendations that Mr. van Dongen, minister Heed and Mr. Oppal would give me were sure to be grounded in reality, a reality that the current legislation does not reflect.
That is why this bill is so important. The Liberal Party of Canada was lucky enough to have Wally Oppal and then B.C. solicitor general John van Dongen come to Ottawa to present a whole slate of legislative recommendations. This bill represents job one from what we have heard.
First and foremost, by extending the definition of transmission data to all means of telecommunications beyond telephones goes a long way to addressing a situation we are all familiar with in the House. Members only need to look at the holsters on their belts or in their pockets to know what I am talking about. I am talking about the BlackBerry.
We all have to face one thing here. We may try to be ahead of the curve, but we should face the fact that criminals are at least as sophisticated as we are. They talk on these tools. They email and send PIN messages to each other. They know their way around police surveillance because right now in a court of law anything they say or write will be inadmissible.
We could argue that we in the House are asking for legislation that allows our email correspondence and PINs to be admissible. Yet, the Conservative government's own legislation on freedom of information for the government stops short of email correspondence. I leave it to the members on the other side of the House to explain this point to Canadians, especially because they were the ones who made such a big noise about transparency and accountability when they were first elected.
As we have seen over the last year, of course, transparency and accountability have taken quite a beating in the cheque republic we are all living in now, but let us hope that with this legislation the government is moving in the right direction at least within the Criminal Code.
There is another part of the bill, however, that I would like to be a bit more serious about at this time. It refers to an issue that I think every member of Parliament in the House would agree goes far beyond partisan interests.
The stiff penalty that this bill would bring in for those who use the Internet to exploit a child makes this bill, without a doubt, one of the most important reforms we as members of Parliament can champion.
As a parent of two daughters and a young boy I can say that I, along with my wife Roni, like most Canadians view this very modern form of evil as a family's worst nightmare.
As a member of Parliament I know we all, no matter what party we belong to, come to the House to work for our communities, but what no one riding can speak for is the community that exists online and the importance we must place in ensuring the highest standards of conduct to protect the innocent.
This amendment is really about bringing our justice system into the century we are all living in now, the world our kids will inherit. Let us ensure they can grow up in a world where we can guarantee their safety when they are online as well.
I would like to say in closing that I really do not have any problem with the main points in the bill at all. Indeed, I know from my side of the House when a crime bill works for Canadians we see no reason in slowing down the process. Of course, we will never hear that from my colleagues across the floor, but a quick look at our record on crime bills that make sense tells that story.
The fact is, as I mentioned earlier, we do not have the luxury of living in the past tense because criminals are taking advantage of how our laws have not modernized. We have to move with the times and allow our police and our court system to let justice prevail. Though there may be finer points with the bill that could stand a closer look, that is what we are here for.
I am sure I speak for all of us in the House when I say that if we truly mean it when we say we want to make Parliament work, there is no greater priority than making it work for the justice system.
Mr. Speaker, it is certainly an honour for me to speak in favour of Bill, the investigative powers for the 21st century act which aligns with the government's priority of getting tough on crime, including the Internet and other computer crimes. It also responds to many of the issues surrounding organized crime.
The justice committee has undertaken a comprehensive study of organized crime, and at every venue and at every hearing we hear about the need for the police to have the exact type of tools that Bill provides.
With the amendments put forward in Bill , which amends the Criminal Code among other acts, including the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act and the Competition Act, Parliament would provide police officers with more precise and less cumbersome investigative techniques which they need and have been asking for in the 21st century to do their work in a more effective and efficient manner.
Crime is becoming more sophisticated. Criminals are becoming technocrats and police need to keep up with technical advances that organized crime has been developing.
In addition to updating certain existing offences that are facilitated by the Internet, including child sexual exploitation, Bill proposes to create new production and preservation orders to address today's computer and telecommunications environment.
Investigative powers must be tailored to modern technologies. Investigations may be compromised if they are not. In addition, these changes assist in ensuring that established privacy protections put in place to protect the rights of all Canadians are maintained in the face of these ever-developing new technologies.
Bill would update the existing dial number recorder warrant, which currently allows police to obtain data relating to dialed telephone numbers. The proposed transmission data recorder warrant would allow police to obtain data in relation to the routing of an electronic communication, including communications by email or by cellphone in real time. Police would also be able to obtain historical data of the same kind under such a production order.
The existing requirements for obtaining dialed telephone number data would continue to apply to the data obtained under the transmission data warrant. As with the existing warrant, the updated powers would explicitly exclude access to the content of the message.
The existing tracking warrant would similarly be updated to provide for both a production order for tracking data and a warrant for the real-time collection of that tracking data. These updates would create a two-warrant system, which would better recognize the different expectations of privacy that persons have in relation to their personal location and that of their vehicles, transactions and other things.
Computer data by its very nature is volatile. As a result, there is a risk that it will be lost in the time that it takes for police to get a warrant or order to obtain that type of evidence. Police need a way to ensure that computer data necessary to an investigation is preserved during this time and during the fullness of the investigation. The new preservation demand and preservation order is simply a do not delete order, requiring the custodian of the computer data to ensure the preservation for a limited period of time, and of specific data related to a specific communication or to a specific subscriber. This data will only be preserved for the purpose of conducting a specific investigation.
It is crucial to understand that any disclosure of information under all of these legislative proposals would be pursuant to a judicial authorization. That protection is not being changed by these amendments to the Criminal Code.
We need to ensure that pursuant to a judge's order, investigators can obtain the kind of information they need, but no more and nothing else. We must ensure that any intrusion into privacy only goes as far as is necessary. These new measures guarantee privacy with precision and strike the appropriate balance, I submit, between law enforcement needs and privacy protections.
The proposed legislative amendments are required to meet our domestic imperatives. However, they would also allow Canada to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime and its additional protocol on xenophobia and racism. In the international context, this treaty is not only one of its kind and will allow Canadian law enforcement to avail itself of the international cooperation that the protocol permits.
I can assure the House that the legislative proposals put forward in the bill would not only contribute to getting Canadian law enforcement officers the tools they need in the 21st century but they also demonstrate Canada's commitment to cross-border and hemispheric security in the Americas, and assist in meeting international expectations for Canadian participation in the global fight against cybercrime.
Lawful access is not about eavesdropping on private communication, or monitoring the web surfing and emailing habits of ordinary Canadians. It is about ensuring that law enforcement and national security agencies have the technical and legal ability to keep up with new developments in information and communications technology.
New technology is a useful and powerful tool. However, in the hands of criminals, terrorists and organized crime, this same technology can be used in ways that threaten public safety and national security. That is why the Government of Canada is committed to updating Canada's laws to keep pace with these ever emerging technologies. While Canada was one of the first countries to enact criminal laws in the areas of computer crime, there have been no substantial amendments since the 1990s. Technology has evolved considerably since then and Canada's laws have to keep pace.
These increasingly complex technologies are challenging conventional investigative methods and criminals are taking advantage of this situation using sophisticated technology to help them carry out their illicit activities that threaten the safety and security of Canadians. To overcome these challenges, legislative tools such as this bill and amendments to the Criminal Code must evolve so that law enforcement can effectively investigate criminal activities while ensuring that Canadian's privacy laws and civil liberties are always respected. The proposed legislation will update certain existing Criminal Code offences and investigative powers as well as create new powers to meet the demands of today's technological cybercrime environment.
The proposed legislation will accomplish five things. First, it will update the current Criminal Code provisions to allow police to obtain transmission data, also known as traffic data, that is received or sent via the telephone or Internet. Second, it will require telecommunication service providers to preserve, for a limited period of time, data related to a specific communication or subscriber, if that information is needed for the investigation of an offence. Third, it will make it a specific offence for two or more persons to agree to arrange to commit an offence against a child by means of telecommunication. Fourth, it will modernize the current tracking warrant provisions to better recognize Canadians' expectations of privacy. Fifth, it will update the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act so that the proposed new investigative powers in the Criminal Code are accessible to Canada's treaty partners.
This bill deals with data preservation and not data retention. When requested to do so through a preservation order, ISPs would only be required to preserve specific data already in their possession with respect to a particular suspect. Data preservation would ensure that volatile information vital to an investigation was not deleted before the police were in a position to access the specific data by way of a judicially authorized search warrant or a production order. These proposed amendments would not require ISPs to retain data relating to all of their customers' Internet activities.
Privacy will be protected by these amendments. The government is strongly committed to maintaining the rule of law in all of its legislation. None of the lawful access tools such as production orders, preservation orders, interception orders and search warrants can be obtained in the absence of lawful authority. A person's reasonable expectation of privacy will continue to guide how the Canadian government operates and how its legislation will be enforced.
In addition, the government will ensure that such authority will continue to be exercised, bearing in mind privacy and human rights contained in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. The issuance of warrants will continue to require judicial authorization. No lawful access, production orders, preservation orders, interception orders, or search warrants can be obtained in the absence of lawful authority.
It is with a view to maintaining the privacy of Canadian citizens and keeping up with the sophistication of the new breed of high-tech criminals that I ask all hon. members to support Bill .
Mr. Speaker, it is a great privilege to speak to Bill on behalf of the New Democratic caucus. The bill amends the Criminal Code, the Competition Act and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, and is colloquially known as the investigative powers for the 21st century act.
New Democrats agree that we must be tougher on crime. We must be tougher on Internet-based crime. We have to have zero tolerance for child pornography or any offence targeted at children or any particularly vulnerable people in our society. In this regard, we support modernizing our laws to make sure that cellphones, email, the Internet and all modern forms of communication through which crimes may be committed are not a haven for criminal activity.
The New Democratic caucus is pleased to work with the government to ensure that these changes are made, but also that they are made in a correct manner so that they are effective and efficient and achieve the goals to which they are directed.
New Democrats support this bill in principle, but look forward to examining it in detail to ensure that it will be effective in combatting cybercrime while protecting the privacy rights of ordinary, law-abiding Canadians and in following long-held, cherished and established precepts of civil liberties and law in this country, which I will speak to in a few moments. There are a number of provisions in this bill that we think are positive and we are pleased to support.
First, this bill creates a new Criminal Code offence to prohibit people from agreeing to or making arrangements with another person to sexually exploit a child. I am going to pause there. That is a positive amendment to our Criminal Code with which we think it is impossible for any right-thinking individual to disagree. We would point out, however, it is probably the case that there are presently Criminal Code provisions which, arguably, cover such an offence now, but if it helps the police community, the judiciary and our prosecutors, and more important, if it makes it clear as a social denunciation by our society that it is absolutely unacceptable and intolerable that anybody would even think of sexually exploiting a child, then we think this is a positive amendment.
Another provision in this bill that we are pleased to support is the creation of another new Criminal Code offence for possessing a computer virus for the purpose of committing mischief. This pales in comparison to the previous amendment I just discussed. However, it does modernize our Criminal Code to take into account something in the digital world that has become a pressing problem and creates economic and social dislocation in our society.
Much of the rest of the bill is taken up with amendments to the definition of various terms to reflect modern technologies. As an example, the Criminal Code presently discusses the warrant system with respect to telecommunications. This bill proposes to modernize the language by making it clear that when we speak of telecommunications, we speak of things such as Internet transmissions, email transmissions, website visits and website creation, as well as cellular phone transmissions.
In that respect, we think this is a positive and long overdue amendment to the Criminal Code that will again help our judiciary and prosecutors and, indeed, everybody associated with the judicial system to expedite and make our warrant system better.
While we have not been presented with any compelling evidence that the current definitions are impeding police and investigations, we are not opposed to updating this language in our laws to reflect this new technological reality.
I will pause there to comment that many people in civil society and experts in the digital and technological world have pointed out repeatedly that there does not seem to have been a case made where any police force in this country has not been able to use the current definitions and provisions in the Criminal Code to get warrants in a case involving new digital technology. A number of organizations have repeatedly asked for such examples and, to my knowledge and understanding, not a single example has been forthcoming.
Nevertheless, sometimes it behooves Parliament to act in a proactive manner and to identify gaps in our law or needed improvements in our law without waiting for mischief to actually take place. In this respect, this is a positive step.
Concerns have been expressed by experts in the digital world, including those who have a particular interest in ensuring that citizens' privacy interests are always taken into account by Parliament, including the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and privacy commissioners of various provinces. They are concerned that this legislation has some deficiencies and may not strike the right balance between individual privacy and the legitimate needs of the authorities. The Privacy Commissioner has set forth a number of very helpful and valid benchmarks that will help us as parliamentarians as we consider this bill and other bills that touch on these areas. Let me mention some of these considerations.
Any intrusions of our civil liberties must be minimally intrusive at all times. We must impose limits on the use of new powers and ensure that appropriate legal thresholds, including judicial oversight, remain in place for all court authorizations. We must require that draft regulations be reviewed publicly before coming into force. We must always include effective oversight whenever we are talking about expanding or creating new police powers, particularly when those relate to intercepting communications from our citizens.
We must provide for regular public reporting on the use of these powers. In particular, it would be considered very helpful to include a five year parliamentary review of this bill and others like it, which I will speak about in a moment, that also deal with Internet privacy and the need for us to modernize our laws in terms of technological and digital communications.
We look forward, as New Democrats, to working together to address these concerns and others during the committee study of this bill.
The current telecommunications provisions in the Criminal Code that speak of intercepted communications were drafted in a time when telephones were the primary mechanism over which certain crimes were being committed. It is called telephony, and in the telephony world our police forces used wiretaps. The digital world has changed the type of technology and the type of investigative tools that are needed to deal with crimes.
In terms of the content, we need to have laws that are geared more toward production orders and preservation orders so that when a crime is committed digitally, the information is not erased or overridden quickly in order to destroy the evidence of those crimes before there is a chance to intercept it. It is very important that we give our police forces the tools to effectively police and intercept these kinds of communications, which is one thing that this bill is geared to do. The provisions in this bill to create production orders and preservation orders in the digital world are sound and new.
However, there are some concerns about this bill that New Democrats have heard through our early consultation with people who are very familiar with the digital world, and in particular with crimes as they are being committed in that world. One concern is that the bill appears to lower the standard for getting warrants. At present, in order to get a warrant to get a telephone intercept, a police officer would have to appear before a judge and would have to provide information or evidence that would give reasonable grounds to believe that a crime was being committed or was about to be committed.
This bill uses different language. It departs from that long, well-litigated, well-known standard. It talks about having police officers appear before judges to get production orders or preservation orders based on a reasonable suspicion, having reasonable grounds to suspect that a crime may be committed.
Using different words, “belief” as opposed to “suspicion”, we of course know will result in a different standard before our courts. A number of civil liberty groups in this country have expressed the concern that this would result in a diminution of the standard test used to get a warrant. This matter is something that I believe the committee will be looking at very carefully, calling witnesses to appear before it who have expertise both in criminal law and in civil liberties jurisprudence, to ensure that Canadians' rights would not be unduly affected by this.
There is also a concern in the digital community that this bill, while positive in its own right albeit with some of the reservations I have mentioned, when combined with some of the government's other legislation, would represent a holistic problem.
I am not going to get into too much detail, but there is a companion bill to Bill before this House, and that is Bill . Bill is a bill that would require telecom service providers to install equipment that would allow them to preserve data about their subscribers so that they would be subject to a warrant later on. In that respect, we on this side of the House, in the New Democratic caucus, think that may be a positive and necessary development in our law.
However, Bill , as it currently stands, would also allow police, without a search warrant, to demand that those telecom service providers give the police personal information about their subscribers, including their name, their address, their Internet service provider, ISP, and the number in their cellphone that would allow it to be digitally tracked. That has raised grave and serious concerns, not only among experts in the digital community, but also with every Canadian who uses the Internet or web surfs, because that provision represents a serious departure from our law under which Canadians' personal private information ought not to be disclosed to the police without judicial oversight.
Now, the concept of having Bill and Bill together is something that we, as parliamentarians, have to be very cognizant of because, as all members of this House know, bills do not operate in isolation. Laws do not operate in isolation. One law may have impacts on another. In this respect, New Democrats are going to be working very hard to achieve a balance between preserving Canadians' privacy and ensuring that our police and our judiciary have the tools they need to effectively fight crimes committed over the Internet or in the digital world. Case closed.
Let there be no mistake. My friends on the Conservative side of the House seem to think they have a unilateral lock on concern for victims in this country. They seem to think that they are the only people who care about safety, or the only people who care about crime, or the only people who care about victims. I would point out that people on this side of the House, New Democrats, have always championed the most vulnerable people in this society and we have always supported laws that make our citizens safe in this country.
With the greatest of respect to my colleagues on the other side of the House, I think they are prepared to sacrifice civil liberties and privacy rights in order to achieve safety, whereas New Democrats believe that it is important to have a balance whereby we can live in a society that is safe, democratic, and secure for our citizens and at the same time respects the privacy and civil liberties of those citizens.
That is the balance that we believe needs to be achieved in this bill and when this bill is read in conjunction with Bill .
We on this side of the House will be working hard in order to achieve both of those objectives.
I just want to move briefly into some of the details of Bill so that Canadians who are watching us here today or those who are interested in this bill can understand what it would really do.
Bill would allow for warrants to obtain transmission data, thereby extending to all means of telecommunications the investigative powers that are currently restricted to data associated with telephones. In other words, it would modernize our warrants and our production orders, bringing them from the telephone age into the digital age.
The bill would require the production of data regarding the transmission of communications and the location of transactions, individuals or things. Again, this would be a positive step reflecting the fact that in the digital world, crimes can be committed in a nanosecond and evidence of them destroyed in a nanosecond. Through the use of cellular phones and mobile computers, that data can be moved. We need to take care of that.
Bill would create the power to “make preservation demands” and “orders to compel the preservation of electronic evidence”, which I spoke about a bit earlier. If data on these crimes can be created, that data can be erased. Sometimes police need the ability to go in and freeze the status quo, and that is a very important power that our police may need to have.
The bill would provide for warrants to allow the tracking of transactions, individuals and things, within legal thresholds that would be appropriate to the interests at stake.
Under this bill, police would be able to remotely activate existing tracking devices. Forty years ago a telephone line went into a house and that line did not move. Now, a cellular phone is mobile and it goes wherever the person who has it goes. It is important to modernize our laws to deal with that.
I am going to pause here to emphasize that we need to make sure that the legal thresholds for giving police these powers remain at the current levels, to make sure that police must still appear before a judge and must demonstrate before a judge that there are reasonable grounds to believe that a crime has been or is about to be committed so that Canadians' privacy rights are not restricted or impinged upon when it is unjust to do so.
The bill would create a new offence, which would involve someone using a telecommunications system, such as the Internet, to agree to make arrangements with another person for the purpose of sexually exploiting a child. The offence would carry a maximum penalty of 10 years' imprisonment. I touched on that earlier. There is nothing more odious, in New Democrats' view, than a crime that involves the sexual exploitation of anybody, but in particular, a child.
Further, this bill would amend the Competition Act, for the purpose of enforcing certain provisions of that act, in view of new provisions being added to the Criminal Code concerning demands and orders for the preservation of computer data.
This bill would amend the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act such that it would give Canadian authorities responding to requests for assistance some of the new investigative powers being added under the Criminal Code and it would allow the Commissioner for Competition to execute search warrants under the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act.
Overall, we think Bill would be a positive step that would help modernize our laws. It would help give our police the investigative powers they need to catch up to the digital world and the digital age.
New Democrats will support this bill as it moves forward to achieve that aim, while we remain at the same time a strong and unceasing voice to make sure that the privacy interests and civil liberties of Canadians are kept firmly at the forefront of our mind at every step of this equation.
We can have that balance in Canadian society. One of the reasons Canada is one of the best places on earth to live is that we have always managed to achieve that balance between safety, security and liberty and civil liberties and civil rights. New Democrats will continue to work hard to achieve this balance, and we encourage all members of this House to join with us in making sure that Canadians are safe and free.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his thoughtful comments and questions.
One of the confusing parts of the bill is that the government chose to introduce Bills and at the same time, and they interrelate.
It is quite complicated and difficult to untangle which particular clause deals with which particular bill.
One of my colleague's concerns was the ability of police to get subscriber information from telecom service providers without a warrant. With respect to my colleague, that provision is in Bill , but he can be forgiven for being confused about that. We were all confused about that because of the way the government chose to combine these bills.
The bill before us, Bill , does not, from our reading, contain any provision for police to get any information from anyone without a search warrant. That is Bill C-46.
However, with regard to Bill , he is exactly right. New Democrats will be opposing Bill C-47 on that very basis. That bill allows police to get very personal information about people without a search warrant, and we will stand firm against that. However, this bill does not do that.
One thing the member is correct about though is that this bill does create the concept of a preservation order so that telecom service providers will have to, upon the request of police, preserve certain data. I believe the member is quite right to point out the serious privacy reservations we have with that. At committee I think we will be looking very carefully at that area.
I guess the difficulty is that with electronic crimes, evidence of which can be created and then erased, there has to be some mechanism, the argument goes, to preserve that data. Otherwise a crime can be committed and the data is gone.
Therefore we have to look for a way to see if we can balance that need with the need to protect Canadians' privacy rights. The member is quite right and I thank him for pointing out that very important balance that must be struck. We will work in committee to see if that balance can be achieved.
If it cannot be achieved, then we can always come back to the House at third reading and vote against the bill.
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to Bill , which would modernize investigative methods in relation to computer crimes.
The Bloc Québécois supports Bill in principle. It will allow police forces to adapt their investigative techniques to contemporary technological realities, such as the widespread use of cellphones or the Internet, and it will facilitate the work of police officers without unduly infringing on basic rights. I will come back to that later and to the Ligue des droits et des libertés du Québec. The Bloc Québécois has always preferred that route for fighting crime and protecting the individual.
The Bloc Québécois feels that increasing the chance of being caught is much more of a deterrent than increasing the punishment, which often seems remote and abstract. However, this bill raises a number of concerns with respect to privacy, while any justification for infringement of privacy has not been fully demonstrated.
Given the importance of enhancing police powers to deal with the most complex forms of organized crime, the Bloc Québécois supports Bill in principle. However—and this caveat is important—it will ensure in committee that any invasion of privacy is minimal, always necessary and very clearly defined.
As a number of my colleagues have already said, fighting cybercrime is a major challenge in today's world, which has 1.5 billion Internet users, not to mention those who use cellphones, BlackBerrys or other communication devices.
Before I go any further with this bill, I would like to digress and point out that the problem with access to Internet service is an increase in economic crime and crimes against individuals. At the same time, the fact that certain regions do not have access to high speed Internet represents a major problem. There should be a debate on this in the House. To a number of economic and social stakeholders in my region, access to high speed Internet represents an economic issue for the very development of rural regions and communities. It is now essential to some financial and trade transactions with other countries. It is distressing to see that a number of municipalities in my riding, such as Mandeville, Saint-Gabriel-de-Brandon and Saint-Mathieu, do not have access to high speed Internet. Accordingly, a number of municipalities in the riding I represent want these services.
For years now, the Bloc has been calling on the federal government to establish a program to promote the installation of high speed Internet in the regions. The federal government has finally responded with the broadband Canada program, but I think more money needs to be invested in it.
I wanted to digress here, because, as we know, the Internet poses a problem for a number of people today. At the same time, many people and regions do not yet have access to high speed Internet.
I will return now to the bill before us. With the expansion of the Internet and digital technology, cybercrime has become a growing threat, as a number of my Bloc Québécois colleagues and members of the other parties have mentioned in the House.
To deal with it more effectively, the European Union, with the cooperation of countries such as the United States and Canada, developed the convention on cybercrime. Its purpose is to formulate a common criminal policy aimed at protecting society against cybercrime, through such means as more appropriate and stronger legislation and the promotion of international cooperation.
As we know, the Internet reaches beyond the borders of Quebec, Canada and, ultimately, the world. Anything is possible with the Internet. People everywhere in the world are within reach.
In order to harmonize the legislation of the various countries, the international convention establishes four broad categories of offences. First, there are offences relating to network security. An example of this might be offences against confidentiality. Then there are computer and content offences. This refers to child pornography sites, for example. Finally there are offences against intellectual property and related rights, such as the illegal reproduction of protected works causing a great stir.
Although Canada signed the convention in November 2001, it has yet to ratify it. The government is introducing this bill, but it has not even ratified a convention we signed in November 2001.
And so the bill before us today is, in a way, a next step to the convention. Why have we not signed the convention? This is a question we have to ask today.
The legal arsenal must be constantly readapted in the face of organized and international cybercrime, which uses digital technology and Internet resources as targets or means to offend.
Bill modernizes the tools used by police services to track criminals by creating the power to require the production of data relating to the transmission of communications and the location of individuals.
This bill also creates a power to make preservation demands and order the preservation of electronic evidence.
In other words, the bill establishes the new concept of transmission of data and also makes it possible to seize transmission data.
The bill would therefore permit the seizure of data and of the content of transmissions based on reasonable grounds to believe that a person has committed an offence.
A police officer acting without a judicial warrant, and based on suspicion, will be able to compel a service provider to preserve the content of all communications that took place previously between the individual and other persons. This is somewhat like asking the post office to photocopy all of someone’s letters.
The bill also allows warrants to be issued to track transactions, individuals or things.
The concern we have about this bill is of course the entire question of confidentiality and people’s liberty. This bill must not result in wrongful intrusion into the lives of people or into communications people might engage in. Those communications are confidential to that person and the other people with whom they converse over networks like the Internet. This is a major concern.
As well, and I think this is a very important point, Bill creates a new offence, subject to a maximum sentence of imprisonment for 10 years, that prohibits the use of a computer system to enter into agreements with another person to commit a sexual offence against a child.
The bill also amends the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act to make some of the new investigative powers being added to the Criminal Code available to Canadian authorities executing incoming requests for assistance and to allow the Commissioner of Competition to execute search warrants issued under the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act.
Overall, the purpose of the bill is to enable police forces to adapt their investigative techniques to modern technological realities. Facilitating police work, where it does not unduly interfere with fundamental rights, is an avenue the Bloc Québécois has always advocated for fighting crime. This is what must be taken into account, and we will insist on this when the bill is considered in committee.
The new investigative methods the police will be allowed provide for access to a very broad range of information. Obviously, that information must be dealt with in a way that also protects individuals’ privacy. Monitoring someone’s activities on the Internet provides a lot more information about their private life. That is the caveat we would state.
For example, as has also been pointed out by the Ligue des droits et libertés, this bill is a cause for concern about respect for privacy, given that the justification for such interference has not yet been demonstrated.
In this respect, I would like to mention the concern of Quebec's Ligue des droits et libertés that Bills and give Canadian authorities unprecedented means and powers that allow them to pry into the private lives of citizens. The government has not shown that existing investigative powers are inadequate. In a democratic society, it is the government's actions that must be transparent, whereas the private lives of citizens must be protected. Conducting surveillance activities on the strength of mere suspicion threatens the presumption of innocence. These are concerns that were raised by the Ligue des droits et libertés.
Moreover, this urge to unduly monitor our communications could trigger a kind of self-censorship and restrict people's freedom of speech and freedom of thought.
In short, the Ligue feels that the bill is a major intrusion into people's private lives. In a democratic society, it is the government's actions that must be transparent, whereas the private lives of citizens must be protected. This is why the Bloc Québécois will carefully review this legislation in committee to ensure that the powers given to the police are not excessive but, rather, are justified and clearly delineated.
It is very important to reconcile the fight against cybercrime with the rights of Internet users. That is what this bill is all about. In order to be acceptable to the House, the bill must necessarily deal with these two important issues. Indeed, freedom of association, freedom of expression and non-discrimination are all rights that must be respected.
The right to speak freely and to receive and communicate information or ideas without interference from public authorities is also important. We must not go to the other extreme, where people would no longer feel comfortable conversing and exchanging views on the Internet. As parliamentarians, we must find the best possible balance between these two fundamental rights, namely the right to privacy and the right to security.
I also want to stress the importance of prevention in an effective strategy against cybercrime.
Little is said here about prevention, but the government's strategy must necessarily be based on a multi-pronged approach. It must involve both the private and the public sectors.
How can we better protect our young people who communicate on the Internet? How can we better protect people who conduct financial transactions on the Internet? How can we ensure that the system is safe for people? How can we teach people to be careful? How can we convince our young people to avoid contacts that may sometimes be harmful to them and threaten their physical and mental well-being?
Here, in the House of Commons, we can put in place means to better protect Internet users. It is important to give the public, and particularly younger people, the tools and the means to protect themselves against cybercrime. A great deal of information must be provided on this issue. We must get people and entrepreneurs to adopt safe computer practices and to invest in prevention.
Currently, Internet users are often careless. Many people turn on their computer and enter important information on the Internet, without worrying enough about possible consequences. We must change this mentality. In order to do so, we must inform the public of the dangers related to the use of Internet services. We must promote public awareness and, of course, we must provide tools to better use a technology that is now very much part of people's lives.
In conclusion, we are going to support this legislation, but with some reservations.
Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to Bill today.
At the outset, I note a quieter tone in the House today than when the debate began on this bill yesterday. We had a number of attack dogs from the government's side getting up and accusing members of the opposition, particularly the Liberal opposition, defenceless though it was, of trying to initiate an election, a $300 million waste of time, and blaming the Liberals for the fact that somehow this bill was finally getting debate when in fact this bill, in its previous incarnations, had been around for a number of years now, actually going into past Parliaments.
I thought it was something that the government should refrain from doing because the reality is that it is this government that actually passed legislation for fixed election dates some two or three years ago and then went about ignoring its own legislation. Just shortly after it passed the legislation, it desperately looked for ways to circumvent its own laws and called an election one year ahead of schedule last year, causing that same $300 million useless expense that it is blaming the Liberals for right now.
Given that today we are in a much calmer environment here, this is an example of all three parties working together and I believe this is yet another bill that the government is going to see action on. The NDP will be supporting this bill to get it to committee and I would say that as with any bill, there are questions about particular parts of the bill, interpretations of the bill, and those are issues that we will deal with at committee.
I firmly believe, after having a number of years in elected office, that it is always better, if possible, to support a bill at second reading to get it to committee, provided that one is voting for the principle of the bill at second reading. It has to be, in my view, a pretty bad bill not to get support at second reading.
When the bill gets to committee, that is the time to look at the clauses of the bill on a clause by clause basis, try to make amendments and changes that we want, and then at that point, when it comes back to the House, decide whether or not we can support the amended bill.
With regard to the general concept and the general principles involved in this bill, there is no question that this bill is one that merits support and that should be passed to committee.
Bill is an act to amend the Criminal Code, the Competition Act and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act. The bill sets out to provide police with updated powers to investigate, execute warrants, and charge individuals who are using digital technology to commit crimes. Specifically, the bill addresses gaps in the Criminal Code dealing with search warrants and production orders to permit police to obtain transmission data, which include text messages, files and photographs from telephones.
As well, Bill proposes to broaden the scope of warrants to allow tracking warrants, which would permit police to remotely activate existing tracking devices found in certain types of technology such as cellphones and tracking devices in some cars, and would also continue to permit the police to install a separate device that would allow for tracking. One of the members from the Bloc, earlier this morning, talked about criminal gangs stealing expensive cars, that those cars could be tracked overseas and recovered through this legislation.
In addition, the bill would create a new preservation order that would require a telecommunications service provider to safeguard and not delete its data related to a specific communication or a subscriber when police believe that data will assist in an investigation.
The bill proposes modifications to the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, and it widens the scope of assistance that Canada could provide to other countries in fighting cybercrime. Amendments to the Competition Act would provide the Competition Bureau and police with adequate tools to investigate computer-related crime.
Finally, Bill proposes the creation of two new Criminal Code offences. A new offence would be created to prohibit anyone from using a computer system such as the Internet to agree or make arrangements with another person for the purpose of sexually exploiting a child. Currently, the Criminal Code prohibits anyone from using the Internet to communicate directly with a child for the purpose of facilitating child sexual exploitation, but it does not prohibit people from agreeing or making arrangements with another person to sexually exploit a child.
As well, a new offence would be created making it a Criminal Code violation for possessing a computer virus for the purpose of committing mischief.
New Democrats agree that we must be tougher on crime and we should be certainly tougher on Internet-based crime and that in fact we should have a zero tolerance for child pornography.
Canadians also need to know that when they use the Internet or they use email what their privacy rights are.
The bill appears to reintroduce warrantless searches which would allow police to conduct searches without proper oversight. We are already hearing serious warnings from people like the Privacy Commissioner. I asked one or two questions about that this morning and she has some very important observations about this area. That is something, once again, that we are going to have to deal with at the committee stage.
We also have some concerns that the stakeholders have to be properly consulted. I know that at committee we dealt with another bill a few months ago, the charities bill, which is a bill that had been through several incarnations, and through several parliaments. We are still finding that only a small number of charities actually even know that the bill exists.
It seems hard to believe that if the government is doing its job that it would not be sending out letters to thousands of charities across the country telling them that such a bill is before the House and it is in their particular interest to make representations and get involved in the process. I think that is the sort of problem that we all face that we can only dig down so far with legislation. We only have so much time to do the consultations and sometimes it is hard to shake out and stir up the stakeholders to get them involved. However, that is something that we definitely want to do on this bill.
We think it is very important to modernize these laws. It is not only this law that needs modernization. There are many laws that we have on the books which go back to the horse and buggy days. We have to upgrade and update these laws to get them into the computer age. That fact is that even in five or ten years the technology can change so much that we are basically playing catch up. That is what I find as a legislator that we seem to be always playing catch up from a legislative point of view.
We need to get tough on criminals like Internet predators while still allowing ordinary Canadians privacy when sending e-mails to friends and family.
The previous Bloc member asked a question just minutes ago about that very point. It is a very difficult balance between the privacy issues, protecting people's privacy and certainly having the public protected. That is the exercise that we have to deal with at this particular time.
New Democrats agree that we must be tougher on crime, tough on Internet-based crime and have zero tolerance for child pornography. We support modernizing our laws to ensure that cellphones and the Internet are not a haven for criminal activity. We want to work with the government to ensure that these changes are done right.
Now that the Internet is in place, particularly since 1995, criminals adapt very quickly. If they can get away with frauds and scams by using the Internet and do it in an offshore place where there are really no laws against what they are doing, or they can hide and not suffer the consequences, then they will do that. We need to adapt to these changes by giving our police forces the tools they need to catch up to the criminals and stop them before they get away with their crimes. We in the NDP are very interested in combatting cybercrime.
We are pleased with a number of provisions in the bill and one is the creation of a new Criminal Code offence to prohibit people from agreeing or making arrangements with another person to sexually exploit a child. Another one is the creation of a new Criminal Code offence for possessing a computer virus for the purpose of committing mischief.
As I indicated before, much of the bill is taken up with amendments to definitions of various terms to reflect modern technologies. We have not seen any compelling evidence yet that the current definitions impede police in their investigations but we are certainly not opposed to getting the updated language in there to reflect the realities of today.
I mentioned before that the Privacy Commissioner had some opinions about the legislation. She has called for assurances that any legislative proposals on surveillance be minimally intrusive. She has called for a limit on the use of new powers and ensure that appropriate legal thresholds remain in place for court authorizations. She also has asked that the draft regulations be reviewed publicly before coming into force and that we include effective oversight. I am not exactly certain what she has in mind there but oversight, in any type of government legislation, is good.
We only need to look at the lack of oversight in the eHealth file, which started out as, and still is, a very positive and solid idea, but 10 years after the start of the eHealth programs, not only in the federal government but in the provincial Governments of Ontario, there is absolutely nothing to show for it. I could even go back further to the Manitoba government before 1999 where it spent $50 million on an eHealth program and yet, at the end of the day, there was absolutely nothing to show for it.
The federal government feels that 16% of Canadians will have electronic health files by perhaps 2010. The cost is about $1.6 billion and that $1.6 billion was supposed to cover the whole country. I must ask a rhetorical question. How do these programs get out of control? I have always been a very big supporter of e-government files, d eHealth files and e-commerce files. In fact, when the legislation was introduced in Manitoba in 2000, the most comprehensive e-commerce legislation in the country, I was the MLA in charge of putting it all together.
At that time, we were trying to promote e-commerce but people were reluctant to buy things online. It was just the very beginning of the process. I remember getting a piece of consumer legislation in that legislation, which I think, to this day, only exists in Manitoba, and that was the requirement that if someone bought a product or service online and, as the consumer, did not get that product or service, then the credit card company was responsible for reimbursing the consumer. That was peculiar to Canada at the time but I took it from one of two or three American states that had that legislation at the time. Ten years ago, we put that piece of consumer legislation and several others dealing with electronic commerce into an omnibus bill dealing with electronic commerce to promote the idea.
However, at the time we could never have even comprehended what in fact would happen over those ensuring years. As a matter of fact, we had the best government-secured system in the country in terms of security. Our people were so good that when they left the Manitoba government we were paying them maybe $100,000 a year, which we thought was excessive. However, one of them went to work for the Bank of Montreal and I think his salary was $300,000 a year. He lived in Toronto anyway, so he made $300,000 a year and simply walked to work, as opposed to flying back and forth to Manitoba every week for $100,000. That is just to show members how important Internet security actually became at about that time.
Members will recall that there were viruses afloat in those days that crippled the British government. The B.C. government was down for a day or two. I think Manitoba was the only government that we were aware of that withstood all of these cyber attacks. I used to get printouts and reports, certainly not a daily basis but any time I wanted them, which would show how many attacks the government would have.
I think any of the members of the government can talk to their online people and can get that information themselves. They can go back and ask how secure our government's system is. They can ask about the number of attacks, the type of attacks and where they are coming from. I think they might be surprised to see those results. They might be positively surprised now because those attacks may be dropping. I have not followed the file as much as I did in the past years.
When Reg Alcock was here he was a big champion of e-government and pushed the file. He obviously lost track of that eHealth file somewhere because it is not producing the results that he would have hoped for. However, his heart and his head were in the right place. He certainly pushed Prime Minister Martin on that whole e-government file. I would guess that the file has been essentially forgotten under the Conservative government. It is just a guess at this point, but my guess is that the Conservatives have gone for simply retrenchment and have taken out no real new initiative since Reg left that particular file. I checked into the secured channel just about a year and a half ago and they were basically retooling the whole concept.
The government has a duty to get its systems and services online as quickly as possible and make them transactional so that people can get proper service. In Manitoba, we have student aid applications online. We did not want students driving 100 miles to Winnipeg to stand in line at the student aid branch for an hour to fill out an application and then drive all the way home again, so we put the application online.
All government services should be put on line. Not only should the government have the applications on line, but it should make them transactional so people can pay for the service with their credit card and have a much happier experience dealing with the government than having to wait in line at government offices. This is something that I do not hear much from the government on and I think we should be looking at that. I intend to ask more questions about that in the future.
What sort of oversight will we have on the bill? I sure hope it is a better oversight than what we had on the eHealth file and other files where there were boondoggles in the government.
I think the five year parliamentary review that was suggested by the Privacy Commissioner is a good idea. However, I need to know whether there will be a review after five years, which is a great idea, or even a sunset clause after five years given the great changes in technology that could happen over a period like that.
Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to address Bill on investigations and the Internet.
This is an interesting bill for a very specific reason. For the past little while, the government side has been introducing legislation to deal with crime, cybercrime and new technology used by criminals. One can think, for instance, of the identity theft bill, which the Bloc Québécois supports, and Bill , which the Bloc Québécois will also be supporting. I will outline later our reasons for supporting this bill, but I will also mention the contraindications to this bill; it is a matter of dosage.
I must say that what is being proposed by the government side is interesting for a change. We can sense a desire to modernize, which is something of a novelty on the part of a Reform-Conservative Party. They should normally be acting like dinosaurs, but all of a sudden, we can see an increased effort to try and modernize some pieces of legislation. The problem is that subtlety is not their forte. Complications might happen, which they may not know what to do about. Hence the importance of thorough debate.
We cannot pass a bill as important as this one that quickly. A few short days are not enough to conclude debate, close the matter and immediately pass the bill. We will need time to examine the bill and consider its consequences. If this bill can be referred to the Standing Committee on Justice or the Standing Committee on Public Safety, for example, we will have to take the time to speak with witnesses and see whether some valuable amendments could be made.
I will confess that the Bloc is supporting this bill because of its importance and because of the fact that, increasingly, the world is turning to the Internet. More and more banking is done on the Internet, which could attract fraudsters to the net. There is another major problem, that of pedophilia. There is the risk of having to deal with the exploitation of minors and children. That sort of thing happens on the Internet. At least, with new legislation, there will be new equipment to go after sexual offenders, these predators—if I can put it that way—and catch them as quickly as possible and clean up the Internet a little.
We are all aware of the meteoric rise in the use of the Internet since the mid-1990s. Its use is constantly growing. I provided a couple of examples about pedophilia on the Internet, which can be and is misused. There is Internet fraud as well. I will establish a link with what we were debating last week regarding identity theft. With the arrival of sites such as Facebook, more and more information is available on the Internet. It can of course be improperly used. With this bill, we will at least have the means to deal with this sort of crime all the more vigorously.
On the subject of problems, we must not go to the other extreme. It is in this regard that I have some fears about the Conservatives, and perhaps more about the Reform and Alliance wing of the Conservatives. It would be easy to get carried away with this bill. The Ligue des droits et libertés in Quebec has expressed serious concerns regarding this bill, since confidential information obtained on people could be misused. The league says the government has to be transparent and the private life of people has to be protected.
So already there is a problem with this bill, which will have to be debated in committee. Witnesses will have to be heard and serious work must be done, as the Bloc has done each time in legal matters. To echo what my NDP colleague said earlier, we in the Bloc have always been smart on crime. I think we have one of the best critics on the subject in our colleague, the hon. member for . He was minister of public security in Quebec for many years and it was he who fought the hardest against crime, among other things. The Hell's Angels at the time, are an example.
All of the knowledge and intellect of the hon. member for could shed fantastic light in committee, where witnesses could be called and amendments worked out. This bill is consistent, but needs fine tuning. I am known to be a perfectionist. We will have to make improvements in committee.
I have been listening to my other colleagues’ speeches since the beginning of the day. I am not just a perfectionist, I also have a good ear and am a good listener. One of the areas that could be tackled most easily with this bill is cyberpedophilia. Unfortunately, people do not use the Internet only for good purposes. I was surprised recently when I read statistics about Internet usage. Nearly 90% of Internet sites and Internet pages are related to pornography. This is shocking. Obviously cyberpedophiles have no qualms about using the Internet to distribute child pornography files. We have a duty to combat this vigorously, to make sure that we eliminate this atrocity to the extent possible; we are all in agreement. This is the example that came up most often in the case of this bill.
My colleague from has done just as good a job as my colleague from when it comes to justice and public safety issues. He was just saying that we could put chips in cars. Very often, when a car is stolen, it is broken down into parts that are sent to the four corners of the world, and this makes tracing a difficult task. It is very hard to find the car or the parts intact.
At least, we are seeing modernization of some laws, as I was just saying. This is no longer the era of highway robbery and of trains being derailed so the cars could be robbed. The Jesse James's of this world belong to the past. But it was a somewhat more romantic era, if I may say so. Nonetheless, we are seeing bandits making wide use of the Internet, in our day, to achieve their ends. Bank thefts are becoming increasingly complex. These people have an extraordinary ability to reinvent themselves. I have always been told that government reacts rather than acting, but it is clear that the government has finally decided to act, and to introduce this bill.
As I said, it will be extremely important to move this debate to committee so we can examine all facets of the bill. My fear is that the Conservatives want to pass it too quickly. We have seen this in far too many justice-related files. They say they are tough on crime. I will not say what I think of this tough on crime analogy, but in some cases we can very clearly see that it is completely bizarre.
Just now, my colleague drew comparisons with the United States. In particular, I am thinking of the minimum sentences the Conservatives are trying to shove down the opposition parties’ throats. We can see that the American Republicans have tried such sentences, and where it has got them.
Bill C-46 amends the Criminal Code. Among other things creates a new concept called “transmission data,” which would extend to all means of telecommunication the investigative powers that are currently restricted to data associated with telephones.
As I said, this is no longer the era of mere telephone wiretapping. We have to look at all information exchanged on the Internet. I will draw a parallel. I certainly would not want to get involved in the election about to be held at the municipal level in Quebec, but when there is collusion, we often see that the Internet has been used to exchange information about price fixing.
It is apparent, therefore, that these kinds of dishonest, fraudulent conversations are not carried out solely on the telephone any more or in dark little rooms. We have reached the point now where people can easily commit fraud from their offices over the Internet.
This bill also creates, therefore, the power to compel the production of data relating to the transmission of communications; it creates the power to require the production of data on the location from which individuals operate; it creates the power to make preservation demands and orders to compel the preservation of electronic evidence; it allows for warrants to be issued, subject of course to legal thresholds appropriate to the interests at stake; and it makes it possible to track transactions, individuals and things. The police will be able to remotely activate tracking devices. These are exactly the kind of things that can become problematic and should be considered in the implementation of the bill.
As I have been saying and as the Ligue des droits et libertés said, we must be careful that the government itself does not use the legislation at some point for the wrong reasons. Far be it from me to suggest that the government might currently have some nefarious ideas. We have seen, though, what they are sometimes capable of. The bill will also create a new offence with a maximum punishment of ten years in prison for the use of computer systems like the Internet to agree or arrange with another person to commit a sexual offence against a child.
The bill also amends the Competition Act—this is ironic because it is precisely what I was just talking about in regard to the collusion on Montreal Island—to make applicable for certain provisions of the act the new provisions being added to the Criminal Code respecting demands and orders for the preservation of computer data and orders for the production of documents relating to the transmission of communications or financial data.
Finally, the bill amends the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act to make some of the new investigative powers being added to the Criminal Code available to Canadian authorities executing incoming requests for assistance and to allow the Commissioner of Competition to execute search warrants under the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act.
As I said, the Bloc Québécois is in principle in favour of Bill , whose purpose is to enable police forces to adapt their investigative techniques to contemporary technological realities, such as the widespread use of cellphones and the Internet.
I would like to draw another connection. Not only criminals use these kinds of communications but increasingly also terrorists, who use such things as the Internet and cellphones to carry out their plans. We can therefore fight on both fronts.
Facilitating police work, where it does not unduly interfere with fundamental rights, is an avenue the Bloc Québécois has always advocated for fighting crime. This approach has certainly proved itself in Quebec. The Bloc Québécois also thinks that increasing the likelihood of getting caught is a much greater deterrent than increasing the punishments, which often seem pretty remote and abstract.
I must say that when I see criminals, of whatever sort, who are warned that they will get a sentence of 15 or 20 years in prison for something like cocaine trafficking, they do not seem very worried about it because they are focused on what they stand to gain. Criminals may well think it would be pretty good to sell cocaine for a few years for the $10 million or so they would get.
So it is much more a question of increasing police presence and better equipping the police to fight crime. It is this that will really deter criminals rather than simply warning them they will get a 10-year sentence, because no criminal thinks they will be caught until the means are in place to catch them.
However, as I was saying, this bill raises a number of concerns regarding respect of privacy, whereas there has been no justification provided for such infringement. Given the importance of strengthening police powers to fight the most complex forms of organized crime, the Bloc supports the principle behind the bill.
I wish to reiterate my full confidence in my colleagues from and . I am sure that they will do some extraordinary, meticulous and exemplary work in committee to ensure that there are as few intrusions into people's private lives as possible, and that those intrusions are always necessary and very well delineated.
If I am permitted a few minutes, I may perhaps put the whole thing in context and recall to some extent the origins of the spirit of the bill. It all comes from the Convention on Cybercrime, which underlies Bill and Bill , which we will study a little later. The bill before us draws largely on it. The convention was formulated by the Council of Europe with the active involvement of Canada, the United States, Japan and South Africa.
Under the terms of its preamble, the convention aims to pursue a common criminal policy aimed at the protection of society against cybercrime, inter alia, by adopting appropriate legislation and fostering international co-operation. It is structured, more specifically, around three regulatory lines, that of harmonization of domestic laws, the establishment of appropriate means in order to facilitate the conduct of investigations and criminal proceedings on electronic networks and, finally, the establishment of a rapid and effective system of international cooperation.
On the subject of cybercrime and the Internet, the letters, www, stand for the World Wide Web. And we know why—because it is truly world wide. So, a criminal can easily be based in South Africa and commit crimes in Canada or Europe. Hence the importance of cooperating multilaterally with other countries to acquire the means and to work together to stop these criminals.
In order to harmonize domestic laws, international conventions on cybercrime set out the offences in four broad categories. First, there are offences relating to the security of networks, namely offences involving confidentiality, integrity, or data or system availability. There are also computer-related offences, namely falsification and fraud and then offences relating to content, namely child pornography, as I was saying earlier. Finally, there are offences relating to infringement of intellectual property and related rights, such as the illegal reproduction of protected works. In the case of offences relating to the dissemination of racist or xenophobic ideas and to trafficking in human beings over the networks, there is an additional protocol.
To facilitate investigations and prosecution in cyberspace, the convention contains a series of provisions that the signatories will have to approve. These provide, among other things, for the preservation, search and seizure, and interception of data stored on a computer system. Finally, to promote international cooperation, signatories will be permitted to act on behalf of others in acquiring electronic evidence. This will not give the signatories the authority to conduct transborder investigations, proceedings or searches, but a network of national contact points will be established to provide constant and immediate assistance with ongoing investigations. This goes to show the value, as I indicated, of multilateral cooperation in that regard.
I gave the example of a criminal who could very well send data—or commit a Criminal Code offence—from South Africa to Canada. The idea of going over there to arrest him is therefore far from our minds, but if we are at least able to provide information to local authorities, send them the data, we will be much more likely to catch him.
So, the cybercrime convention is the result of a lengthy process undertaken in 1995. The document underwent 27 drafts, because of the need to take into account reticence on the part of several consumer associations, warning against the serious danger of breaching privacy.
The Chair is signaling that I am running out of time. That is unfortunate, because I could have gone on for hours. My hon. colleagues will no doubt put very good questions to me, and I will gladly answer them.