(for the Minister of Justice)
moved that Bill , be read the second time and referred to a committee.
She said: Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to speak in support of government Bill , the child protection act.
I think everyone in this House would agree there is no greater duty for us as elected officials than to ensure the protection of children, the most precious and vulnerable members of our society.
The creation of the Internet, particularly the creation of the World Wide Web, has provided new means for offenders to distribute and consume child pornography, resulting in significant increases in the availability and volume of child pornography.
While Canada has one of the most comprehensive frameworks in the world to combat child pornography, we can and must do better in protecting children from sexual exploitation. This proposed new federal statute before us today would enhance Canada's capacity to better protect children from sexual exploitation by requiring suppliers of Internet services to report Internet child pornography.
Bill would strengthen Canada's ability to detect potential child pornography offences; help reduce the availability of online child sexual abuse; facilitate the identification, apprehension and prosecution of offenders; and, most importantly, help identify the victims so they may be rescued from sadistic pedophiles.
Less than a week ago, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection released a report that included an overview of the information received through reports to Cybertip.ca. Cybertip.ca is Canada's tipline for reporting online child sexual exploitation, in particular, child pornography, online luring, child exploitation through prostitution, travelling sex offenders and child trafficking.
I will quote from this report, which contains absolutely shocking information about the prevalence of online sexual assault and the distribution of these images:
The results of this assessment provide some disturbing data on the issue of child abuse images. Most concerning is the severity of abuse depicted, with over 35% of all images showing serious sexual assaults. Combined with the age ranges of the children in the images, we see that children under 8 years old are most likely to be abused through sexual assaults. Even more alarming is the extreme sexual assaults which occur against children under the age of 8 years. These statistics challenge the misconception that child pornography consists largely of innocent or harmless nude photographs of children.
The Cybertip.ca report reinforces similar findings revealed this past summer in the special report of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime, “Every Image, Every Child”.
This report, which provided an overview of the problem of Internet-facilitated child sexual abuse, revealed that the number of charges for production and distribution of child pornography increased 900% between 1998 and 2003. Moreover, between 2003 and 2007, the number of images of serious child abuse quadrupled. Additionally, the images are becoming more violent and the photos are featuring younger children.
Canadians would be appalled to know that 39% of those accessing child pornography were viewing images of children between the ages of three and five, and 19% were viewing images of infants under three years old.
Here are a few other facts from the report. Commercial child pornography is estimated to be a multi-billion dollar industry worldwide. There are over 750,000 pedophiles online at any given time. Thousands of new images or videos are put on the Internet every week, and hundreds of thousands of searches for child sexual abuse are performed daily. Offenders may have collections of over a million child sexual abuse images. An image of a four year old girl in diapers has been shared an estimated 800,000 times. Most child sexual abuse image producers are known to the victims.
The most disturbing revelation in the ombudsman's report comes in the form of a quote from Ontario Provincial Police detective inspector Angie Howe. When she appeared before a Senate committee in 2005, she said:
The images are getting more violent and the children in the photos are getting younger. As recently as one year ago, we did not see pictures with babies, where now it is normal to see babies in many collections that we find. There is even a highly sought-after series on the Internet of a newborn baby being violated. She still has her umbilical cord attached; she is that young.
We must do everything within our power to put a stop to this growing problem. That is why our government has introduced legislation to create a uniform mandatory reporting regime across Canada.
It is important to note that the measures proposed in Bill build upon our existing comprehensive measures to better protect all children against sexual exploitation through child pornography.
Canadian criminal laws against child pornography are among the most comprehensive in the world and apply to representations involving real and imaginary children. Section 163.1 of the Criminal Code prohibits all forms of making, distributing, transmitting, accessing, selling, advertising, exporting, importing and possessing child pornography. It broadly defines child pornography that includes visual, written and audio depictions of sexual abuse of a young person under the age of 18 years, that advocates or counsels such unlawful activity, or that has descriptions of such unlawful activity as its predominant focus.
All child pornography offences are punishable by significant penalties, including a maximum of 10 years' imprisonment upon indictment for the offences of making and distributing child pornography.
Since 2005, all child pornography offences impose a mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment and, as a result, convicted child pornographers are not eligible to receive a conditional sentence, for example, house arrest.
As well, the commission of any child pornography offence with the intent to profit is an aggravating factor for sentencing purposes.
Also, since 2005, sentencing courts are required to give primary consideration to the sentencing objectives of denunciation and deterrence in sentencing for an offence involving the abuse of a child.
This government also recognizes that more is needed to combat this scourge than just strong criminal laws. That is why, in December 2008, we renewed the federal government's national strategy to protect children from sexual exploitation on the Internet. Initially launched in 2004, and under the lead of the Minister of Public Safety, this strategy is providing $42.1 million over five years to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police's National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre to provide law enforcement with better tools and resources to address Internet-based child sexual exploitation, enhance public education and awareness, and support the national launch and ongoing operation of Cybertip.ca as a national 24/7 tipline for reporting the sexual exploitation of children on the Internet.
As announced in budget 2007 and rolled out in 2008, we have allocated an additional $6 million per year to strengthen initiatives to combat the sexual exploitation and trafficking of children. These funds are being used to augment the overall capacity of the NCECC, as well as to specifically enhance its ability to identify, and ultimately rescue, child victims through the analysis of images seized from sex offenders, captured on the Internet or received from international law enforcement agencies.
The international community has also recognized that the protection of our children is of paramount importance in the many treaties that address the issue. In particular, the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime seeks to standardize a definition of child pornography and offences related to child pornography in an attempt to foster international cooperation for crimes against the world's children. The legislation introduced in the House yesterday would further enhance our ability to cooperate with our international partners in the fight to eradicate this violence.
I would now like to describe how this piece of legislation will work.
First, the bill focuses on the Internet and those who supply Internet services to the public, because the widespread adoption of the Internet is largely responsible for the growth in child pornography crimes over the last 10 years or so. Because suppliers of Internet services are uniquely placed to discover child pornography crimes, because they provide Canadians with the Internet services through which child pornography crimes can be committed, the bill imposes upon them a duty to report or notify.
It should be noted that this act will cover more than just ISPs. The term ISP usually refers to those who provide access to the Internet, in other words, the wires that go into our homes or apartments. This bill applies to all persons who supply an Internet service to the public. While this includes ISPs, it also includes those who supply electronic mail services such as webmail, Internet content hosting, which would include web server farms and co-location facilities, and social networking sites on which the public can upload material to an Internet service.
Furthermore, the act would apply to those who provide complimentary Internet services to the public, such as cybercafés, hotels, restaurants and public libraries. This wide application will ensure that the act has as broad a scope as possible and will eliminate as many pedophile safe havens as possible.
Under this new federal statute, suppliers of an Internet service will have a duty to comply with a number of requirements.
First, they will be required to report to a designated agency whenever they are advised of any Internet addressing information relating to a website where child pornography may be found. To be clear, it is only the Internet addressing information that they will be required to report to the designated agency. No personal information will be sent to the designated agency.
This has to be done for two reasons. First, in order to perform the triage function of determining where this material resides, the designated agency does not need any additional information. Second and most importantly, since the designated agency does not need personal information to fulfill its duties, which will be articulated in the regulations, to protect the privacy of Canadians, no personal information will be passed on by the supplier of the Internet service to the designated agency.
Although the regulations have not yet been finalized, it is anticipated that the main role of the designated agency will be to, first, determine if the Internet addressing information actually leads to child pornography as defined by the Criminal Code, and second, to determine the actual geographic location of the web servers hosting the material. The designated agency would then refer the report on to the appropriate law enforcement agency.
The second duty proposed by Bill would require persons who supply Internet services to the public to notify police when they have reasonable grounds to believe that a child pornography offence has been committed using their Internet service.
For example, if an email provider, while conducting routine maintenance for its mail servers, found a user's mailbox filled with child pornography, it would then be required to notify police that it had grounds to believe that a child pornography offence had been committed. This duty, which falls under clause 4 of this proposed new federal statute, also comes with an additional duty to preserve this information for 21 days once the email provider had notified police.
In order to ensure that the privacy rights of Canadians would not be unduly impacted, the person who notified police would also be required to destroy any information that would not be retained in the ordinary course of business after the expiry of the 21 days, or continue to safeguard the information if a further court order were obtained in relation to that information. Any person who made a notification to police under this act would also be required not to disclose the fact that he or she had made such a notification.
Bill was also crafted with the following overarching principles in mind.
This legislation should not contribute to the consumption or further dissemination of child pornography. In accordance with this principle, among other things, the bill explicitly states that it does not require or authorize any person to seek out child pornography. In addition to this, the duties were crafted in a manner that would not require a person who supplies an Internet service to do any personal investigation.
They are not required to verify Internet addressing information when they must report to an agency, and they are required to notify police only when they become aware that a child pornography offence has been committed using their Internet service.
The last feature of the bill that I would like to talk about this afternoon is the offences and the penalties.
Any person who knowingly contravenes his or her duties under this act is liable on summary conviction to a graduated penalty scheme, starting with fines of up to $1,000 for a first offence to $5,000 for a second offence with the possibility of a $10,000 fine and/or imprisonment for up to six months for a third and subsequent offence.
Increased penalties are available for corporations and these, in the same manner, are $10,000, $50,000 and $100,000 respectively. The two-tier penalty scheme recognizes the diverse landscape of Canada's service provider community which ranges from large multi-national corporations to sole-proprietorships. While some might argue that these penalties are relatively minor, the government believes that they strike the balance between sending a message to suppliers of Internet services that they have a social, moral and now legal duty to report this heinous material when they encounter it and the real focus of the bill which is compliance.
This government wants to ensure that not only the major ISPs, that already voluntarily report and assist policy, comply but that all suppliers of Internet services in Canada comply so that we can further the goal of better protecting our children.
I hope that all parties and all members of Parliament will provide support for Bill .
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak to Bill , yet another bill destined for our already busy committee on justice and human rights.
I am pleased to rise to address this issue. Such issues are just as important to the people of my riding of Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe as to those across the country.
Everyone is concerned about the exponential growth in the production and distribution of pornography and child pornography in particular. We also know, whether it is child pornography, or information in general or social networking, the Internet in particular is the vehicle of the future for the dissemination of information, good and bad.
Countries around the world and provinces and territories across the country are moving to stop gaps. I think police forces and child protection agencies across the country are feeling that they are like the child putting the finger in the dike. We are just not keeping up.
As a preface before I get into the bill, I will state my overall view on the crime-fighting agenda of the government. I have only been here for three years, 10 months and a number of days. Since I have been here, the government has given great lip service to fighting crime. It has booked whatever TV studio wherever it could and created whatever press conference however it could to be seen as fighting crime.
That may have worked for a while. However, when we are sitting here almost four years after the government came to power and nothing has been done on issues regarding child pornography, one wonders why it was so eager to publicize its fighting crime agenda, but then not deliver the goods for four years. I will get into the nitty-gritty of whether Bill delivers the goods or not.
The reality is, in 2005, the mandatory minimum sentence of one year for an offence of possessing and creating child pornography was instituted by a Liberal government. The definition of child pornography was broadened by a Liberal government to include depictions, digital or otherwise, in order to trap more perpetrators of the crime. That took us up to late 2005.
Then we take the canvas over to January 23, 2006. I have sat through the justice committee meetings and read the literature since that time without interruption. I have not attended every meeting, but I have been there for the whole agenda. There has been nothing on child pornography in that time. If we are all united in Parliament to try to do some good and combat the ill effects of the web and child pornography exploitation in particular, we ought to say to each other that this is not good enough.
Speaking to the Canadian public between elections, some of which were called unnecessarily, and committee wrangling, some of which were instituted unnecessarily, there is enough blame to go all around. This is not partisan. However, the people sitting at home must wonder why child pornography has not been a priority for almost four years.
We will support sending the bill to committee. At committee, under the cold eye of revision and input, we may even make improvements upon the intent of the bill. That is always our intention when it goes to a committee. We might look at it at committee and ask a number of very searing questions. When he appears before the committee, the minister will be asked why it took so long to bring this forward.
We have a Criminal Code that keeps growing in size. Section 163.1 has a definition of child pornography and the sentences set out for the various offences involving making, possessing or accessing. That seems to be the triage or the flow. People can create child pornography. They can access or possess it. In doing that, they have committed a whole other group of possible offences, which might include enslavement, captivity, assaults and all those other related offences in the other part of the Code.
However, when we look at section 163, which starts out with creating the heinous images and it goes down to accessing child pornography, the bill we are speaking of could very well be inserted in the Criminal Code. To the outside world and to the criminal bar in particular, because the Criminal Code has a whole number of procedural safeguards enforcing the offences in there, it seems to me that the content of the bill could have been easily slipped into section 163.2 or something like that to make it a very copacetic law.
There might be some push-back with respect to this law, having made it only a separate law. I do not know, but we will hear from representatives of industry who might have resisted this. After all, the fines in the bill relate mostly to companies and individuals running services, which is in the realm of small business persons. If an individual supports an Internet service or works on websites and somehow has knowledge of pornographic material and does not report it, which is the essence of the bill, the person is subject to, on the first offence, a fine of $1,000. If a company is guilty of a similar non-action, the first offence is $10,000.
This is not the kind of tough on crime that the father of three daughters, like me, living in a middle-class neighbourhood in Moncton, New Brunswick, thinks is appropriate. I am sure people listening to the debate might wonder about this. People could knowingly ignore the pornographic images on a site that they manage, not report it, yet, if caught, they would only get $1,000 fine under this law. It may not be strenuous enough. It is not in the Criminal Code, and it is almost four years late.
That does not go to the substance of the bill. We will take it to committee and hopefully we will buttress it. However, we want to make it clear to the government that the time is now over for the five o`clock newscasts during which Conservatives say that they will introduce another bill and deliver on promises, some here and some there, and that they will meet with the territorial and provincial attorneys general, but only act on their recommendations a year and a half later.
Some of these recommendations, which were to have come from a 2008 provincial and territorial attorneys general meeting, were submitted in June for a September meeting. We are talking almost a year and a half before implementation of what every, to my knowledge, attorney general across the country feels. It is no wonder, then, that provinces, in the realm of many areas of legislation that should be brought in by the Conservative government, are doing their own thing.
Since 2008, Ontario already has on the books a child pornography reporting act. I remind the House that the Conservative government came into power in 2006. I am not familiar necessarily with the Ontario legislative agenda, but it had to do its own thing. I believe Manitoba has done something similar.
Last week, and around the speech from the throne in my province, Attorney General Michael Murphy, and he is a relation, brought in the civil forfeiture act. It is a unique law in the country that maybe other provinces will emulate. In the case of convicted child pornographers, their property will be forfeited. The civil value of those properties will go into victims of crime pools of money to help the province with people who have been subject to this terrible type of crime. Not only that, pending trial by way of escrow or in trust, the assets will be frozen and any proceeds from the assets will be held pending the outcome of a trial on charges like this.
It is the kind of thing that provinces had to do because, I would say, the Conservative government has had its concentration on publicizing the crimes they are bringing in rather than thinking about holistic changes to our criminal law in general.
Now to the bill. The bill itself deals with sole proprietors of corporations who fail to report child pornography on sites that they have a hand in managing. It certainly is timely. It is, however, as I mentioned, a civil bill, and it does not have as its consequences criminal in nature as we would expect.
Section 11 of the act has fines ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 for offences by an individual, and from $10,000 to $100,000 for all other cases. The definition completely scripts what the Criminal Code says about child pornography, so that will not be challenged. It has already been tested by the courts.
Now what are the people, the stakeholders, saying about this crime? There are two reports here. One is from the Cape Breton Post which says:
This in itself won’t make a big dent in the torrent of child porn still available worldwide but it will give police and anti-child porn agencies such as cybertip.ca some more chances to pick up the threads of networks and rings, and possibly even to rescue a few more children from horrific situations.
This is what I was trying to say earlier. The Internet has transformed modern life in many positive ways. The explosion of electronic child porn is the outstanding example of the cost of this. If some principles of privacy and freedom have to be qualified to reduce that cost to the children of the world, so be it.
Certainly, one of the questions I will be asking the minister and the Department of Justice officials is this. Is the concern for the privacy and the freedom of speech, is that the reason why this bill is not tougher? It is something we will have a debate in Parliament with respect to the balance between freedom of speech, any expectation of privacy, and the need to get serious about combating the Internet.
Let us be clear, the whip is not here and I should talk to the whip, but I do not want to criticize Cape Breton or the Cape Breton Post but I do not need the Cape Breton Post to make this statement, which is that the real problem here is not cracking down on reporting of known sites, the real problem here is to prevent those sites from being distributed in the first place.
We are almost attacking the people who see the sites or who are supposed to see the sites or who might see the sites, and we are attacking them if they do not report it. It seems to me that to get right to the core, we have to do as they have done in other countries and we have to take action with the industry to ensure that those sites are not distributed in the first place.
I am not suggesting we go to totalitarian regimes, and I will not name them, but I think we know that there are some countries where there is no Internet because the government wants to control the message and in those cases there is no message.
We cannot do that, but it does prove that if the small island of Cuba, and there, I have said it, can say, “There shall be no Internet at all”, and that is not a terribly technologically advanced country, how is it that we cannot, in this world, in this country, one of the richest countries in the world, do better in stopping the source of these sites.
Again, going from east to west, the Edmonton Sun says, with respect to the recent study by the federal ombudsman:
The number of Internet images of 'serious child abuse' quadrupled between 2003 and 2007.
What it opines on this law is:
So while the new bill will indeed provide an additional tool, it is not the solution and it must not be regarded as such.
I spoke about other jurisdictions. The international conference, combating child pornography on the Internet, which took place in Vienna, Austria, also adds some elements that I hope the government is considering. The whole world, at this conference, concluded that we have to take steps to ensure that we can obtain the evidence necessary to identify child pornographers.
The minister spoke very briefly about how this bill will be used to do that. We hope that there is further evidence on that because we want this bill to be effective. It is not enough just to penalize people who do not report. We have to know, and we will get this from the law enforcement officials, that the reporting will lead to the finding of child pornographers.
Second, there must be a balance regarding the privacy laws with respect to the expectation of privacy.
The third point, however, and probably the most important one that cannot be really addressed in legislation but has to be out there on a justice agenda, is that we must work together: hotlines, law enforcement and private industry. We need to shield from civil liability those hotlines, ISPs and others in the industry that in good faith attempt to assist law enforcement in investigations of child pornography.
The minister was very correct in quoting the statistics from cybertip.ca. The facts are outstanding. They are horrifying. For instance, of the 4,110 unique images assessed by an analyst, 35 showed sexual assaults against children, and if we broke it down by age, 37.2% of them were against 8-year-olds and 83% of the images were of female children. It is despicable. It is horrible. It must be addressed.
The international situation is deplorable for Canada. We speak a lot in this chamber about the government turning away from international obligations, international colloquia, international conferences, and international discussions on things from climate change to financial institutions, to international standards on child care, to not signing the universal declaration of aboriginal rights.
The government has all the excuses for those aversions to talking to the international community, but probably one that it would never think it has been absent on is the impression of its law enforcement standards across the world.
When we see these categories, I would think Conservatives who tout their anti-crime agenda would be embarrassed. Of the top five countries hosting websites with child sexual abuse images, we are third. Of the top five countries hosting images of child sexual abuse, we are second. And of the top five countries selling material on child sexual abuse websites, we are second.
The other countries involved are not countries we would like to be in line with. The United States has its commercial pre-eminence and its, until recently, overemphasis on freedom of speech and overemphasis on the right to be secure from privacy with Miranda and so forth, and not have incursions by the state into private life. Sadly, I think I hear echoes of this from the other side as being something that can be templated for Canada. I disagree. We are Canada, not the United States.
The United States comes first in all these categories. We do not want to go up in this category. We want to go down. One of the things that could be done, and has been done all around the world, and I would think that if there are opposition members suggesting being tougher on something, the government would want to, for instance, listen to or emulate Sweden.
In Sweden, the TeliaSonera launched child porn blocking services for ISPs, so the blocking is done at the source. In Brazil, the goal of the policy established there is to set up ethical rules for companies providing Internet services in Brazil, and for the users of these services. In Germany and the EU, probably the most advanced system, they are putting together systems to block access to websites containing child pornography.
In summary, we are just starting to get at this. It has been almost four years. With the goodwill in this House toward this unspeakable set of crimes, it probably could have been accomplished a lot sooner, so I guess the question we would all have is, why was it not done sooner?
Let us get at it. Let us improve this bill to emulate parts of the international community that the government normally, with respect to climate change and other items, does not want to be seen with, but for once maybe we will show the government, as we send this along to committee, that it is not bad to have friends internationally. It is not bad to emulate best practices around the world, and it is not bad to work with other parties.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on behalf of my party to Bill . I will say from the outset that the bill, on the surface, seems extremely interesting. We will support it in order that it may be sent to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights to be studied closely.
It is time for Canada, and Quebec in particular, to get with it when it comes to dealing with crime and to take measures to deal with crimes that are on the rise, namely child pornography and pedophilia. These are what I would call heinous crimes that are committed by people—and that is the problem with this type of crime, so I will choose my words carefully—in secret. In other words, an individual, sitting alone at his computer, can visit pornographic sites that post heinous material, namely pornography and pedophilia. These are things we never used to encounter.
This is the 21st century and no one could have anticipated these problems when the Criminal Code was first written. However, when the Criminal Code was amended recently, we started to take note of this new type of crime that has appeared in the past 10 or 15 years. It is a new form of insidious crime that is very difficult to get a handle on. We will nevertheless try to put a stop to it, but we need the means to do so.
This is a crime that is committed in solitude. The individual, in their secret hideaway, in their house, in their bedroom or even at their office—we know that some people have done this at work—visits pornographic sites.
I think it is important to provide a definition at this stage because we will do so with this bill. I am referring to section 163 of the Criminal Code, which will be clarified as follows:
“computer data” means representations, including signs, signals or symbols, that are in a form suitable for processing in a computer system.
With respect, this is truly a totally new area of law. We are wading into something completely new.
We are going to amend subsections 161.1, 161.2, 161.3 on the definition of pornography, the distribution of pornography, the possession of child pornography and accessing child pornography.
However, things get very interesting when we get into a new debate, a new area of law. It is very interesting. I will read clause 3 of the bill slowly to be sure that the interpreter can translate it well.
If a person is advised, in the course of providing an Internet service to the public, of an Internet Protocol address or a Uniform Resource Locator—
This is also known as a URL and is referred to as such in the French version of the legislation. I will continue.
—where child pornography may be available to the public, the person must report that address or Uniform Resource Locator to the organization designated by the regulations, as soon as feasible and in accordance with the regulations.
Quite honestly, I am somewhat concerned about all of this. It seems a little complicated to me. It is going to be implemented. I hope and pray that this will not turn into another gun registry because that would be catastrophic.
Clause 4 reads as follows:
If a person who provides an Internet service to the public has reasonable grounds to believe that their Internet service is being or has been used to commit a child pornography offence, the person must notify an officer, constable or other person employed for the preservation and maintenance of the public peace of that fact, as soon as feasible and in accordance with the regulations.
The system is based on reporting. In my opinion, there comes a point when we have to implement harsh measures. Child pornography is unacceptable, and nobody in the House will stand for it. Abusing kids who are just five, six or seven years old, or younger still, is unacceptable debasement.
As I said before, this form of debasement has been allowed to proliferate over the years because we have not had the means to stop it. I hope that this bill and the amendments to the Criminal Code will help us identify these users.
Increasing the likelihood of getting caught is a much greater deterrent than increasing punishments, which often seem remote and abstract. That is exactly what this bill will accomplish. We have to send a clear message to all pornographers. Words cannot describe the loathsome individuals who participate in child pornography. Their behaviour is unacceptable. We have to send them the message that from now on, chances are they will get caught.
Here is an analogy. Giving people a $2,000 fine if they are caught driving while impaired will not stop people from driving their cars. The real deterrent is the risk of getting caught and dealing with the consequences of impaired driving. Imposing fines and minimum prison sentences is not that effective.
There has been a decrease in prison sentences and impaired driving cases, but it is the fear of getting caught that greatly encourages people to be careful and avoid drinking. Many people drink less and spend less time in bars. That is the objective of the bill. That is one of the reasons why the Bloc will support it. However, I have a few questions. Of course, I will ask them in committee. In fact, I hope that we will be able to study the bill very early in the new year.
The bill covers more than ISPs, or Internet service providers. That means that the bill covers more than Bell and Rogers. That is when things get interesting. The bill will cover anyone who offers Internet services to the public. That may include all small sized companies. That could include people who have servers in their basement. I will chose my words carefully. I do not mean to say that aboriginal communities have the kind of servers, but there are aboriginal communities that receive all poker games controlled from Kahnawake. If we include everybody who host Internet sites, we cover much more than Bell. That would include anyone who offers Internet services to the public, hence, anyone who hosts that kind of Internet sites.
This also includes Internet service providers, as well as those providing email services, host services and social networking sites on the Internet. Consider for example all the users of Twitter and Facebook around the world.
Let us use the example of the hon. member for , who has I do not know how many friends on Facebook. Of course, I do not doubt his honesty. I am merely giving an example.
One of his Facebook friends could tell him to look at a particular site, because it has something interesting on it. We are not talking fiction here; we are not in a movie. This is real life. That is how these networks work. Someone sends a message to someone else, telling him or her to go to a particular site. For example, someone who is looking for a $4,000 bicycle might be told to try eBay.
Getting back to my example of the fine member for , who has at least 7,000 Facebook friends, if one of those people recommends visiting a site of some interest, the fine member for Bourassa would be obligated to report it.
That is what is extremely important about this bill. That must stop. Such things can no longer be accepted. We must ensure that these people are not given special privileges, people who, under the pretext of helping someone, recommend sites. I hesitate to even use the word “help”. Child pornography, which victimizes children aged five, six, seven or eight years old, is completely unacceptable. It makes no sense and is unacceptable. Pornography in general is probably unacceptable for some, but child pornography is particularly offensive. And it is our duty to protect children and minors.
I would like to repeat what I said a few moments ago, to make sure I did not make any mistakes:
The Bloc Québécois believes that Increasing the likelihood of getting caught is a much greater deterrent than increasing punishments, which often seem remote and abstract.
A lot of Canadians are connected to the Internet and visit websites like Facebook and Twitter. If they receive a message like I mentioned earlier, or if someone suggests that they visit a website of interest, it is clear that there will be an obligation to report. That is exactly what clause 4 of the bill states:
If a person who provides an Internet service to the public has reasonable grounds to believe that their Internet service is being or has been used to commit a child pornography offence, the person must notify... as soon as feasible—
Therefore, those responsible for these networks, the service providers, and I think, especially, the users will have to report. It is not illegal to visit Twitter, to have friends on Facebook, or to use Google. There is nothing illegal about that. With Bill , what will become illegal will be visiting child pornography sites and encouraging others to visit them.
Even as a criminal lawyer, I can say that this is a good bill. It is about time. It is a good bill to amend the Criminal Code.
First the compliments, now the criticisms. It is all well and good to pass new laws, but we must also develop the means to enforce them.
That is of great concern to me. Something was brought to our attention in recent days when we learned that the bill was coming. A number of people began to wonder about our ability to deal with the information that will be reported, and thus to investigate and file charges. We have been told that, in Canada, no more than 300 police officers currently monitor Internet sites and carry out related duties. They answer inquiries, conduct investigations and, generally, lay charges. We have seen and continue to see this every day in different media when charges are laid against pedophiles.
We have been told that once the bill is in effect, in its first or second year, there will be so much information that is stored, or provided or sent to people such as the police that they will not be able to do the work and will run the risk of missing a number of pedophiles who visit these sites.
That is the fear of the Bloc Québécois and we will certainly be asking these questions when the minister or his representatives appear before us. We will probably also call the Solicitor General and the before the committee. We have to give the legislation legs to stand on. It is all well and good to introduce a bill, to fight child pornography and to want to eradicate it, but we have to give police the means to deal with the needs and the complaints as well as the resulting summons. We only need to examine the requirements of the bill. I will read just section 5:
A person who makes a notification under section 4 must preserve...
Those who provide information have obligations. I will continue:
...must preserve all computer data related to the notification that is in their possession or control for 21 days after the day on which the notification is made.
It is beginning to pose a few difficulties. I will continue with subsection 5(2) of the bill:
The person must destroy the computer data that would not be retained in the ordinary course of business and any document that is prepared for the purpose of preserving computer data under subsection (1) as soon as feasible after the expiry of the 21-day period, unless the person is required to preserve the computer data by a judicial order made under any other Act of Parliament or the legislature of a province.
In plain English, it boils down to one thing: before we pass this bill, we must ensure that our police forces have what they need to enforce it. We cannot adopt this type of bill, implement it and then see how things go. We cannot and that is our main concern.
I will close by saying that when a bill responds to society's needs, the Bloc Québécois supports it. We believe that the bill responds to the needs of society, of Canada in general, and of Quebec in particular, and we will therefore support the bill.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill .
As we heard earlier today, the bill would force an Internet service provider to report an Internet protocol address or a uniform resource locator if the ISP, the Internet service provider, is aware that this address may be used for the purposes of committing a child pornography offence. It says that the ISP needs to report it as soon possible and that, following reporting, the ISP must preserve all computer data related to the notification for 21 days.
Criminal Code reform or any kind of reform dealing with law within the criminal realm, whether it is dealt with through regulations or civil law, calls for a fact based appraisal of the present situation, as well as a very careful assessment of whether proposed reforms will actually enhance the objectives of what we say is the realm of criminal law or the criminal justice system.
One needs to answer some very important questions, and there are three in particular that I will note: first, what are we trying to accomplish; second, are the proposed reforms likely to make our communities safer; and, third, do we actually need this legislative change?
I will begin with the first question. What are we trying to accomplish? This bill is trying to accomplish the protection of children from online sexual exploitation. This is very much a laudable goal. I would point out that this is something we stand behind and action on this issue in the House is a long time coming.
In fact, the NDP introduced a bill about Internet luring in 2006 in the 39th Parliament. My colleague, the member for , introduced the bill. The purpose of that bill, which was then Bill , was to prevent the use of the Internet to unlawfully promote, display, describe or facilitate participation in unlawful sexual activity involving young persons. That was in 2006 and I congratulate my colleague from for introducing the bill and turning the attention of the House to this very important issue.
Here we are in 2009, on the doorstep of 2010, and this is the first time we are seeing a bill that would deal with Internet child pornography. I extend congratulations to the government for finally waking up to this serious issue, an issue that impacts the health and safety of all communities in Canada.
The next question I would like to address in our analysis of this bill is: Are the proposed reforms likely to make our communities safer? This is the crux of the issue and I believe the answer requires a bit of nuance thinking and real analysis.
First, let me be clear that action on child pornography is critical, and this cannot be stated enough. Child pornography is wrong, it is criminal and we must work to stop it. Is this the best way to approach Internet pornography? Is this the best way to stop the exploitation of children online? I believe there is some merit to this bill, no doubt, but I am really struck by what is not in the bill.
The bill states that Internet service providers must report to police when their addresses are being used for child pornography. However, I think we also need to consider how we will deal with ISPs that do not co-operate with this mandate. I think we can go further when it comes to the duty and onus that is placed on ISPs.
ISPs have the information. This is how investigative officers can get information about the identities of people who are involved in putting child pornography online. I look forward to hearing from witnesses at committee about this aspect of the bill. What can we do to put an additional onus on ISPs that do not co-operate? What other provisions can be put in place?
What is obviously missing from this bill are the resources. What does it mean to report child pornography when there are no resources, human, financial or structural, to do anything about it? I had a discussion earlier with my colleague from . There is a provision in the bill to deal with a scenario of an ISP reporting online child pornography and then after 21 days having to dispose of the information if it has not been asked to protect it by judicial order. I imagine that this will be the case very frequently, that the 21 day period will pass with very little, if any, action in most cases because our police officers do not have the resources to deal with online child pornography. They know it is out there. We all know it is out there.
In doing research for this speech, I learned not to put online child porn in a search engine because I was assaulted with the findings. Police know it is out there. Communities know it is out there. Parents know it is out there. How do we investigate it when there is only one person, at best, per station who is charged with the task of actually investigating online child porn?
The bill needs resources. It needs a task force of investigators, a task force that can develop expertise in investigating, in pursuing and in prosecuting.
Earlier this year, the University of Toronto, which has a Centre for Innovation Law and Policy, held a symposium on online child exploitation. David Butt, a trial lawyer in Toronto who was mentioned in the House earlier in the debate, spoke about the issue of child pornography investigations. I would like to read from the abstract of his presentation because it sums up some of the issues facing us when we are considering online child porn. In the abstract, he wrote:
Traditionally, prosecutors and police conducting internet child exploitation cases worked at the practical intersection of many different fields of expertise: law, child-oriented social work, pedophilia as a psychiatric phenomenon, and of course criminal investigations. The recent explosion of internet related child exploitation has obliged prosecutors and police to draw as well from various technological disciplines, international commerce, international relations, and a host of disciplines that examine the social impact of the emerging cyber-world. This is a daunting task for prosecutors and police, and illustrates well the radical change in the face of child exploitation that the internet has wrought. We are not far along in adjusting to this radical change. Success in addressing internet child exploitation will arrive only through creative multi-faceted responses that mirror the multifaceted nature of the internet itself.
I think the most important part of that abstract is the statement:
Success in addressing Internet child exploitation will arrive only through creative multi-faceted responses that mirror the multifaceted nature of the internet itself.
We have an expert on this issue saying that we need a creative approach to this issue and yet the response in this House by the government is brief and empty, and I fear that it is truly meaningless. We need meaningful action on child pornography.
Reporting is absolutely key but it is only the first step. We need serious attention to resources in order to stop this terrible crime.
Earlier today I was talking about this bill with my colleagues and the member for raised a very good point. He said, and I agree with him, that he was sick and tired of bills like this that the government trots out in an attempt to make it look like it cares about children when yesterday we recognized that it was 20 years ago that this House made a commitment to end child poverty in Canada. Here we are 20 years later and we do not consider giving kids a safe place to live, enough food, early childhood education or any of the things that we need to actually ensure children are healthy and safe in this country.
The only thing the bill would do is introduce mandatory reporting. What about real action to ensure our kids are safe? We purport to do things like in 1989, the unanimous House of Commons vote to end child poverty; i the Convention on the Rights of the Child was ratified by federal, provincial and territorial governments in 1999; in 1997, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples set a target to close the economic gap by 50%; and in 2005, the first ministers meeting on aboriginal affairs in Kelowna.
Here we are though with very little to show for it. All we have are terrible statistics like those that follow.
Between 1989 and 2008, the number of children in Canada relying on food banks grew from 151,000 to 260,000. Children are disproportionately dependent on food banks.
The average low income family lives far below the poverty line. Low income, two parent families would, on average, need an extra $9,400 a year to bring their incomes up to the poverty line, to the low income cutoff.
We have also completely abandoned aboriginal children when it comes to poverty, and also when it comes to sex crime issues. Somehow when we think about what is happening with aboriginal girls, we imagine them as being involved in the sex trade, but that is not right. They are not involved in the sex trade. It is sexual exploitation. It is child trafficking. It is the luring of aboriginal girls from their communities to cities where they are sexually exploited, and it happens because these girls are poor and forgotten.
This is a pretty sad legacy and it is part and parcel of the total lack of real action on online child pornography. It is my hope that we will have witnesses come to committee who will shed light on how we can take real action on Internet child pornography.
Perhaps we will have some witnesses from the Canadian Professional Police Association, which has said time after time that the police lack the resources for effective and meaningful crime investigations. The association has stood up publicly and called the government on its reneging on the promise for more officers and resources for police.
In a brief to the Standing Committee on Finance in 2008, the Canadian Professional Police Association spoke to this very issue of resources. I would like to read from that brief:
[The Prime Minister] launched the Conservative Party's Stand Up for Security plan during the 2006 Federal Election campaign, which included a promise to “negotiate with the provinces to create a new cost-shared program jointly with provincial and municipal governments, to put at least 2,500 more police on the beat in our cities and communities”.
In April, 2006, [the Prime Minister] came to speak to our association, and promised our delegates that his government would put in place a new cost sharing program with the provinces and municipalities to increase the number of police officers in our communities....
Our member associations feel betrayed by the government's failure to deliver upon this key election promise. We are calling on Parliament to reinforce the program commitment and design in the 2009 Federal Budget, in order to address these shortcomings.
The association feels feel betrayed. These experts in policing say they do not have enough boots on the ground. I very much look forward to their testimony on this bill to see if they think that a mandatory reporting mechanism is enough. I also look forward to hearing from other experts on online child pornography issues.
We have looked at the questions of what we are trying to accomplish and whether the proposed reforms are likely to make our communities safer. The third question that we need to answer is, do we need this legislation? Well, maybe.
One thing I know for sure is that we need more than what this bill is providing, if we are actually going to address the issue of online child pornography.
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for .
I am proud to rise in the House today to speak to this important piece of legislation which would enhance Canada's existing measures to better protect children against sexual exploitation through child pornography.
As the father of five children aged from six to 20 years of age, I can tell the House there is nothing more important to a parent than ensuring the safety of our children and protecting them from dangerous Internet predators. That is one of the top priorities for parents in this new digital era.
Bill would do so by creating a new national statutory requirement for providers of Internet services to report online child pornography to designated authorities. Ultimately, this new reporting requirement would improve the ability of law enforcement to detect potential child pornography offences, thereby helping to reduce the availability of online child pornography. It would facilitate the identification and rescue of child victims, and help identify offenders for the purpose of investigation and prosecution.
Although Canada's criminal law has specifically prohibited child pornography since 1993 and strengthened these prohibitions in 2002 and 2005, the full impact of the role of the Internet in facilitating the demand for and distribution of this material is really only now becoming better understood. The anonymity and instantaneous worldwide access to such despicable material offered by the Internet are real challenges.
Bill would apply to those who provide Internet services to the public, requiring them to report to a designated agency tips they receive regarding websites where child pornography may be available to the public. It would also require them to notify police and safeguard evidence if they believed that a child pornography offence had been committed using their Internet service.
Failure to comply with these duties would constitute an offence punishable by graduated fines up to $1,000 for a first offence, $5,000 for a second offence and for subsequent offences the possibility of a fine up to $10,000 or six months' imprisonment or both, for individual offenders. If the offender were a corporation the graduated fines would be up to $10,000, $50,000 and $100,000.
I would highlight that nothing in the legislation would either require or authorize any individual or company to actively seek out incidents of child pornography. In other words, providers of Internet services will not be required to monitor their networks for this type of material.
Our government recognizes the efforts of Canada's major Internet service providers, or ISPs, as they are known, in addressing this serious problem. Most Canadian ISPs have adopted acceptable use policies that outline the rules for using Internet accounts, the conditions for access privileges and the consequences for violating those rules and conditions. Most of these policies allow the ISPs to terminate accounts in cases of unacceptable online behaviour.
Organizations such as the Canadian Association of Internet Providers have also helped to develop standards for the industry, including a code of conduct. In 2003 some Canadian ISPs and police agencies formed the Canadian Coalition Against Internet Child Exploitation to assist law enforcement in addressing online child pornography. One important initiative to come out of such collaboration with ISPs is Project Cleanfeed Canada, which aims to block access to websites that host child pornography. Because the focus of Cleanfeed Canada is on limiting accidental exposure to such images, Cybertip.ca provides to participating ISPs a regularly updated list of Internet addresses associated with images of child sexual abuse.
Most of the major ISPs providing service to almost 90% of all Canadian Internet subscribers are participating in Cleanfeed Canada under a memorandum of understanding with Cybertip.ca. Efforts are being made to expand Cleanfeed Canada to the ISPs that service the other 10% of Canadians. Requiring all providers of Internet services to report child pornography websites will undoubtedly enhance the efficiency of the Cleanfeed Canada program.
Bill also ensures that all those who provide Internet services to the public are be held to the same reporting standard when it comes to reporting online Internet child pornography.
I would highlight that we anticipate that this new legislation should have a limited impact on the business practices of providers of Internet services who already voluntarily report cases of online child pornography. Bill was drafted in a manner that closely reflects the current practices of Canada's major ISPs.
Bill , however, covers more than just a typical ISP. The term ISP, or Internet service provider, usually refers to someone who provides access to the Internet. This act applies to all those who provide an Internet service to the public. While this does include access providers, it also includes those who provide electronic mail services such as webmail, Internet content hosting services and social networking sites.
This legislation complements our existing comprehensive strategy to combat child sexual exploitation in Canada. This strategy includes an impressive array of existing Criminal Code provisions as well as recent legislative initiatives currently before the House such as Bill , and Bill .
If adopted, these proposed pieces of legislation would help ensure that law enforcement and national security agencies have the tools they need to fight crimes such as child pornography in today's high tech environment. This government also recognizes that more is needed to combat this scourge than just strong criminal laws.
That is why, in December 2008, we renewed the federal government's national strategy to protect children from sexual exploitation on the Internet. Initially launched in 2004, this national strategy is providing $42.1 million over five years to the RCMP's National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre to provide law enforcement with better tools and resources to address Internet-based child sexual exploitation, enhance public education and awareness and support the 2005 national launch and ongoing operation of Cybertip.ca as a national 24/7 tipline for reporting the sexual exploitation of children on the Internet.
As announced in budget 2007 and rolled out in 2008, our Conservative government has allocated an additional $6 million per year to strengthen initiatives to combat the sexual exploitation and trafficking of children. These funds are being used to augment the overall capacity of the NCECC as well as to specifically enhance its ability to identify and ultimately rescue child victims through the analysis of images seized from sex offenders that are captured on the Internet or received from international law enforcement agencies.
I hope the House understands just how important this legislation is. Bill will further enhance collaboration between the Internet service industry and law enforcement, resulting in greater protection for our children from online sexual exploitation in today's technological environment. I urge the House to give this bill its full support.