We're here at the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, meeting number 25.
For the orders of the day, we have the committee business that we weren't able to complete at the last meeting because our guests took up the whole time, which was fine. But we do have the main estimates. We have looked at the mains here as a committee, so what we need to do, and what we'd like to do first, is to deal with them. I want to deal with them in the same way we deal with them in the House, so I will read them out, and we'll do it on division, as is the norm.
So if you could just bear with us for a minute guests, we'll be with you in a second.
For the main estimates of 2014, I call the following votes:
CANADIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
Vote 1—Program expenditures..........$19,639,234
(Vote 1 agreed to on division)
CANADIAN HUMAN RIGHTS TRIBUNAL
Vote 1—Program expenditures..........$4,145,232
(Vote 1 agreed to on division)
COMMISSIONER FOR FEDERAL JUDICIAL AFFAIRS
Vote 1—Operating expenditures..........$8,643,425
Vote 5—Canadian Judicial Council—Operating expenditures..........$1,513,611
(Votes 1 and 5 agreed to on division)
COURTS ADMINISTRATION SERVICE
Vote 1—Program expenditures..........$61,260,445
(Vote 1 agreed to on division)
Vote 1—Operating expenditures..........$236,861,079
Vote 5—The grants listed in the Estimates and contributions..........$317,485,223
(Votes 1 and 5 agreed to on division)
OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS
Vote 1—Program expenditures..........$149,579,834
(Vote 1 agreed to on division)
Vote 1—Program expenditures..........$22,307,652
(Vote 1 agreed to on division)
The Chair: Shall the chair report vote 1 under the Canadian Human Rights Commission, vote 1 under the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal; votes 1 and 5 under the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs; vote 1 under Courts Administration Service; votes 1 and 5 under Justice; vote 1 under the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions; and vote 1 under the Supreme Court of Canada to the House?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
An hon. member: On division.
The Chair: I'll report those back, thank you very much.
We have two more quick items.
First, the supplementary estimates (A) were introduced in the House yesterday. There are no supplementary (A)s for this committee, so we won't need to deal with supplementary them, which makes me very sad. Anyway, there aren't any, so we have nothing to do.
Second, we made a commitment that we would try to bundle witnesses—you can see here today that we have the police forces. We have one issue. The people from Facebook cannot make it on the day that we're having other Internet providers here. They're willing to come a week later, so with the permission of the committee, we will put them on another panel. It might not be a full bundle, but we'll have Facebook as an organization.
We do want them here. I would agree with that.
Okay? Thank you very much.
As to the order of reference of Monday, April 28, 2014, Bill , we have witnesses today to talk to us about the bill.
We have the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police here, with Mr. Jim Chu. From the Ontario Provincial Police we have Carson Pardy. From the Royal Canadian Mounted Police we have Joe Oliver. And there are others here with them, who will introduce themselves. From Halifax by video conference we have Jean-Michel Blais, the chief of police.
Thank you for joining us. Each organization will get 10 minutes to address the committee, and then there will be a question and answer period.
My first witness today is from the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police.
Mr. Chu, the floor is yours.
Good morning, Mr. Chair and honourable members.
I'm pleased to be here as president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police. I'm also the chief constable of the Vancouver Police Department.
As mentioned, we're the bundle known as the CACP. We represent over 90% of the Canadian police community, including federal, first nations, provincial, regional, and municipal police agencies. We're really pleased to be able to present information first-hand.
First of all let me say this. The CACP fully supports Bill . Let me get right to the concerns we're seeing on the front lines of Canadian communities every day. The proliferation of crime has moved to the online environment.
Traditional crimes, like criminal harassment, threatening, kidnapping, fraud, a decade ago would have been conveyed with a letter or something through the mail, or perhaps a voicemail. Now, as we know, the vast majority of those crimes are perpetrated online, through text messages, e-mails, through Facebook postings, through revenge websites, through message boards like ask.fm, Kik, or many more websites that exist in cyberspace.
I should also note that a lot of these websites that are used by young and old are based overseas in countries like Latvia or other places in Eastern Europe.
Let me focus right in on young people today. I have this information from our school liaison officers who work in the high schools and elementary schools in Vancouver. Their experiences are similar to what's experienced across Canada.
The amount of online bullying, threatening, sextortion, harassment, and stalking online is more prevalent than ever. Why is that? I look around the room and think that some of us in our youth had to meet the bully face to face in the playground or in the hallways. Schools could deal with that by either moving you or moving the bully, and that would end it, whereas now in the online world it doesn't end. It's 24/7. You go home at night or you go out on the weekend, the bully gets kicked out of school, and it can still continue.
Moreover, many more people can be a bullies. Before, you had to be doing it face to face, whereas now those bullies are emboldened by the anonymity of the Internet, so there are more people doing it. In fact, there are more people being predators out there as well.
Probably all of you, because I know you're in political life, have seen the venomous, abusive comments that are one of the dark sides of social media. As adults, and as people in public life, we're used to coping with it. But think of young people. When they experience something like that it's extremely traumatic. It's frightening, and it progresses to the point where the victims causes harm to themselves because they're so upset and traumatized by what's happened to them.
These are the young people who don't have any safe haven.
Also, if something is posted online can mean that it's out there forever. At least with a written note you can destroy it, put it in the garbage. A written note is passed among just a few people. Those are all who see it. Now, online means the world can see it.
To combat this problem, the police need modernized tools. We need to intervene quickly to stop it from becoming worse.
For a lot of young people, when we're intervening it's not going to result in charges. Give us the tools to help more of these victims, and when we do have a victim, help us to stop the bullying and the harassment early, and stop it from becoming worse, because the worse it gets, the more serious it becomes. Then, of course, it is very traumatic for the victim.
It could lead to criminal charges. In the majority of cases we handle right now, we just resolve at the school level and it doesn't result in criminal charges.
But remember that some of those young people who perpetrate cyberbullying are making bad decisions, whether it's from bad influences in their life.... Again, we want to stop them so that they don't progress to doing something stupid that causes harm to someone else, and they will have to live with that for the rest of their life. Or, if they're taken through the criminal justice system, again, those will be consequences they will have to live with for the rest of their life.
Help us to intervene early.
Of course, we are also engaged in education and we partner with our schools. In Vancouver, especially, we have multilingual brochures because the schools have a struggle to keep up with the technology. Many parents have an even harder time, especially if they are new to Canada, to be able to monitor what their kids are doing, and to put in place protective measures so their kids are acting responsibly.
Let me say this. Canadians believe in privacy rights, and so do the police. We have seen that Bill does not create any ability for the police to compel the release of information that does not go before a judicial authority. That's a very important point. But it helps us get certain information quickly, for example, the routing of Internet traffic so that we can determine who sent a threatening message.
Sometimes that's going to be a dead end. So give us the tools that help rule out those dead ends. For example, we may go through a telco and get information that tells us something originated in a Wi-Fi café. Hopefully we can resolve that and determine that in a matter of hours, not several days, which can be the case right now.
Let me conclude by talking about the concerns of the public and the misinformation that's been spread. I don't know if it's inadvertent or deliberate, but I'll give you three examples of incidents that I've seen recently in the social the news media.
This is a picture of a police officer listening to the phone call of a young girl. There's also another variation of this picture. This same police officer, the actor, is standing over somebody as they surf the Internet. Today, to monitor phone calls in real time we need a wiretap warrant. Those are very hard to get under part VI of the Criminal Code. Those wiretap warrants take 500 to 1,000 pages. They can take weeks to write. My point is that Bill doesn't change that. We cannot do that. As for monitoring the surfing habits of Canadians, I asked our officers in the Vancouver police department and they said they'd never had part VI approval for an IP address. It rarely happens.
Let me point out another news story that kind of gave me cause for reflection. It's titled, “How federal bill C-13 could give CSIS agents—or even Rob Ford”, referring to the mayor of Toronto—“access to your personal online data”. In the Criminal Code, there is some ancient wording that says a mayor is a peace officer, and I suppose a mayor could exercise their powers and make arrests on the streets of their communities, although I've never heard of one doing that. But I would be flabbergasted if a mayor wanted to write a production order, show up at a telco and say, “Give me private data”. It's not going to happen. So putting Rob Ford's name in this headline I think unnecessarily alarms Canadians and is unfair to legislation that's coming forward.
This last opinion article starts with this, and it's from a Halifax newspaper.
Picture this: You arrive home tonight to discover that your friendly neighbourhood police officer is going through your papers and your computer files, making notes on your private information — without a warrant.
If you picture that, it's concerning. Can that happen? First of all, there's no provision for us to do that today without a warrant to search a home, to search a private computer. Warrants have to be obtained from judges with reasonable grounds to believe it's a very high standard. But the writer equates that to Bill , saying that now it's warrantless access to all the Canadians' private information.
In closing, I know Canadians are concerned about their private information. This bill does not allow the police, nor do we want, to go through the private information of Canadians without the proper judicial authorizations. Please give us the tools to help stop people from being victimized. And for those people who have been already victimized, give us the tools to help them not be retraumatized, because the investigation takes days and weeks as a result of our cumbersome processes to get the necessary information to identify the perpetrators.
I will now turn it over to my colleague—
Good morning, Mr. Chair, and members.
It's a pleasure to be here today, and on behalf of our new Commissioner Vince Hawkes, it is my pleasure to be here to represent the almost 6,200 uniformed and 2,800 civilian members of the Ontario Provincial Police. Joining me today is Staff Sergeant Carole Matthews, manager of the OPP technological crime unit, who can address some specifics regarding the investigation of technology-based crime on a number of levels.
We appreciate your interest and welcome the opportunity to speak to this important legislation and in support of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police.
There are a number of aspects to Bill that are supported by the police community, of which the OPP has had an opportunity to provide input since the introduction of the bill last fall. The OPP had representation in and contributed to the cybercrime working group, which is part of the criminal justice coordinating committee of senior officials which advised Public Safety Canada prior to the introduction of the legislation. Detective Staff Sergeant Frank Goldschmidt of the child sexual exploitation section of the OPP was the representative on that group.
We also supported statements made in January 2014 by Chief Constable Jim Chu, the president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police. Now-retired OPP Commissioner Chris Lewis was also a staunch supporter of a previous iteration of this important legislation. We have also tried to do our part to reduce crime and victimization through various public education and awareness initiatives.
The OPP is continually educating front-line officers about issues such as self/peer exploitation so that we can better assist educators, parents, and teens themselves when we are asked for support. The OPP has been developing Internet committees within high schools to educate teens about the serious consequences of self/peer exploitation.
Our people talk about the devastating effects and potential criminal risks associated with this activity. We are also providing information and links to resources, such as www.youthconnected.ca, which has been developed and populated by and for teenagers and, of course, www.NeedHelpNow.ca.
As police, our biggest concern is that teens are unintentionally victimizing themselves by sending inappropriate images of themselves to others. They seem unaware of the consequences when the images often go viral across the Internet or other social media sites. Police are seeing that many teens cannot cope with the shame and embarrassment of what they have done. Many become depressed, anxious, and sometimes suicidal.
The OPP child sexual exploitation unit, on average, receives three to four sexting complaints each week, making it the highest reactive investigative occurrence fielded by this unit. Depending on the individual circumstance of each incident, an offence under the Criminal Code of Canada may or may not have occurred. Offences include possession and distribution of child pornography, extortion, and threatening.
Similar complaints are received regularly by OPP school resource officers and members of the OPP crime prevention section youth issues unit for investigation. The OPP has been a proud supporter and partner of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection and the initiative supported by Public Safety Canada called NeedHelpNow. NeedHelpNow is a web-based resource designed to help Canadian youth, especially in the age 13 to 17 demographic, manage the negative consequences that can occur when sexual images are created and distributed online and to reduce further harm.
NeedHelpNow.ca provides teens with practical steps to regain control over the situation, helpful information about how they can seek support from a safe and trusted adult, and strategies to manage harassment that may occur both online and offline, such as bullying.
The OPP has also been supporting ongoing efforts to call for improved and updated legislative tools to help our police get access to the information we need to investigate child sexual abuse via the Internet, cyberbullying, and other criminal activities using the latest technologies and platforms.
Some of the laws regarding police accessing and using electronic information haven't been updated in more than 40 years. Investigations involving the most vulnerable people in our society, our future leaders, our children, and crimes like online luring, cyberbullying, and self/peer exploitation, or sexting, are time consuming and cumbersome, and in effect, they actually protect the identities of child predators and the materials that they produce.
Thanks to recent legislation, Internet service providers, ISPs—whose own national association, we want to say, view us as their partners—have a legislated duty to report when their services are being used for purposes related to child abuse.
We are still seeking a means to reduce the complexity and the inherent cost of these investigations. Current processes include serving ISPs with a search warrant, a production order, or a law enforcement request for subscriber information relating to a particular Internet protocol address.
Many have raised concerns regarding their personal use of the Internet and privacy of their information. What we want I can liken to using a licence plate number called in as a tip to the police about a dangerous or impaired driver. It's the same thing here. The OPP and its police and community partners believe the Government of Canada's legislation strengthens our ability to obtain vital information quickly, which can then be brought to bear on Internet predators, regardless of their location.
As has been demonstrated by police across North America and around the world, we are making progress in combating Internet child luring, sexual exploitation and abuse, through great police work and information sharing, greater public awareness through partnerships with third-party agencies, such as the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, in the cybertips program, and by being equipped with ever-improving and legislative tools that need to be modernized to help us keep up with an online society.
Bill , as proposed, will enhance our ability to investigate hate crimes as well.
While the Internet and new communications technologies have true, positive value for us as a society, they also have a downside. These new communication technologies are allowing old crimes to be committed in new ways, and they are fostering the development of new crimes. There is no question, some of the legislation involving technology and communications in Canada is out of date.
I can speak to a couple of important differences at a high level, and perhaps Staff Sergeant Matthews can speak to these on a more specific level during questions. Under the current legislation, police can only access the very basics of subscriber information—name and address, maybe a phone number—on a totally ad hoc basis from Internet service providers. This means there is an inconsistent response which impedes investigations and many times prolongs victimization.
Under the proposed legislation, ISPs will be compelled to provide this information in a timely fashion and on a consistent basis. Access to this information will be strictly controlled and limited to law enforcement officials who would be fully trained in these procedures and subject to auditing and/or reporting processes. The outcome will be that the police can quickly and consistently gain access to information that makes a difference to our effectiveness in investigating and preventing criminal activity and victimization.
We see very few negatives with this bill and the various proposed amendments. Should the legislation pass and be brought into force, the OPP recognizes that we will face an increase in calls for service and case workloads related to the investigation of intimate image offences. The OPP will also face resource pressures from investigating complaints related to these new offences.
Of course, the role of the police isn't to create legislation. That's the job of our elected officials. But, in the interest of public safety, we do sometimes need to enter into careful discussion in a public forum that will help inform and shape these matters. Our role as law enforcement is to respond effectively to criminal activities that have found a particular home on the Internet or have been enabled through new communication technologies. The OPP takes its public safety mandate very seriously.
Members of our Provincial Operations Intelligence Bureau, as well as the OPP Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau and the child sexual exploitation unit, take an intelligence-led, coordinated approach to share and leverage information on criminal activities. It takes this intelligence-led, integrated approach with our partners in policing and continued advocacy for the legislative tools needed to meet the law enforcement challenges of today.
We have not been shy about underlining the need for updated legislation that will give us effective tools allowing us to prevent and investigate criminal activity. We do appreciate the federal government's support to enhance what we do to prevent vulnerable persons from being exploited and victimized and to keep our communities safe.
Mr. Chair, and hon. members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to provide an overview of the work being done by the RCMP to combat cybercrime, including cyberbullying.
I am Assistant Commissioner Joe Oliver and I am responsible for overseeing the RCMP's Technical Operations Directorate. Technical operations provides direct specialized investigative and operational services to front-line police officers, including the national coordination of investigations involving the online sexual exploitation of children and the provision of specialized investigative tools to address criminal conduct on the Internet.
Joining me today is Inspector Mercer Armstrong. Inspector Armstrong works in the policy and compliance unit of the RCMP's contract and aboriginal policing directorate. This directorate is responsible for investigative policy, including that governing enforcement of the Criminal Code. That includes incidents such as cyberbullying in RCMP contract jurisdictions across Canada. Contract and aboriginal policing also monitors RCMP educational and outreach initiatives with respect to the prevention of cyberbullying and other crimes.
I would like to start by discussing cybercrime more broadly. Following this, I will touch on some of the investigative challenges that police face in the digital era: challenges that relate to the anonymous, hard-to-detect, and often cross-border nature of cybercrimes. I will then address specific forms of cybercrime that have a devastating impact on youth, namely cyberbullying and the non-consensual distribution of intimate images.
When it comes to cybercrime, it is important to note that cybercrime is, in many cases, a modern means to commit familiar crimes. For example, criminals create and deploy malicious software programs to steal passwords or to obtain personal and financial credentials. This information then allows them to commit a number of offences, such as fraud, identity theft, and other financially motivated crimes. Recently, the RCMP worked with its international partners to investigate the deployment of malware that infected thousands and potentially millions of computers for such criminal purposes. As part of Operation Clean Slate, the RCMP investigated offences involving the unauthorized use of computers and mischief in relation to data, sections 342.1 and 430 of the Criminal Code, respectively.
These provisions, however, do not fully address key elements of cybercrime, including the possession of a computer virus for the purposes of committing mischief, or importing or otherwise making computer viruses available. These criminal threats come from within Canada and abroad, are carried over Canadian telecommunications networks and, in many cases, are both a threat to Canadians and to our allies. As it stands, the Criminal Code's coverage of unauthorized computer use and data mischief does not fully reflect the magnitude of today' s cybercrime environment and the potential scope of related police investigations.
In the fight against cybercrime, timely securing digital evidence in a virtual world is critical. As we all know too well, computer data can be easily altered or deleted, whether inadvertently or intentionally. During the course of a cybercrime investigation, Internet service providers may delete computer data, and therefore potential evidence, as part of routine operations. Law enforcement, as part of common law policing duties, may request service providers to voluntarily preserve data. Notwithstanding this measure, police forces currently have no means of ensuring that service providers do not delete when there is a reason to suspect criminal activity, whether through short-term demands by a police officer, or longer-term orders by judicial authorization. The absence of such investigative tools puts potential evidence at risk as investigators develop their case in support of meeting judicial thresholds for data access.
Another digital evidence challenge relates to the issue of attribution. In other words, how do we start to identify a potential suspect in an online context, particularly when a suspect may have taken sophisticated steps to disguise his or her digital tracks through anonymous online networks, encryption technologies or other cyber-related measures, such as a botnet?
In that context, specific components of digital evidence, such as transmission data or tracking data are particularly important at the start of a police investigation into online criminal activity.
These very precise types of digital evidence allow police to potentially attribute online criminal activity to a source and further investigative leads. Currently specific types of data such as transmission or tracking data may be obtained through voluntary disclosure by a third party or through judicially authorized general production orders or search warrants.
In the case of general production orders or search warrants, police must meet the standard of reasonable grounds to believe that a crime has been committed. This standard can be challenging to meet in the early stages of an investigation where an officer may have reasonable grounds to suspect online criminal activity, but nothing else. In such cases specific forms of data, such as the ones I've mentioned, may contain critical early indications of criminal activity, indicators that are often necessary to commence effective police work in the cyber realm.
These investigative challenges are by no means limited to financially motivated crimes. They extend equally to other devastating online crimes that target our youth such as online child exploitation and cyberbullying. Youth are one of the RCMP's strategic priorities, and comprehensive strategies including education, awareness, and enforcement initiatives are employed to prevent youth victimization and to respond to the participation of youth in criminal activity.
For example, the RCMP's National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre, one of the areas within my portfolio, works with law enforcement partners across Canada and internationally to combat the online sexual exploitation of children. The centre also works closely with the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, a charitable organization that operates Canada's national tip line, cybertip.ca, for reporting online child abuse and sexual exploitation incidents.
To address cyberbullying the RCMP's Youth Resource Centre provides officers working in over 5,000 schools across Canada with lesson plans and related educational tools to help youth recognize, respond to, and prevent both traditional bullying and cyberbullying behaviour. In addition the RCMP's National Crime Prevention Services has also partnered with PREVNet, a national network of researchers and organizations working to stop bullying and cyberbullying, and the University of Victoria to pilot WITS, an acronym for walk away, ignore it, talk it out, and seek help. The WITS program aims to prevent peer victimization and bullying, including cyberbullying, through youth engagement. The pilot is currently supported in 50 schools and has engaged over 8,800 students. These activities are fundamental preventive measures to address cyberbullying.
Unfortunately, cyberbullying cannot always be addressed through prevention. As identified by the cybercrime working group of the coordinating committee of senior officials, bullying and cyberbullying may be manifested in a range of criminal offences, such as criminal harassment, uttering threats, or intimidation. High-profile cyberbullying incidents have taught us that bullying may be facilitated and amplified by telecommunication. As it stands, the existing provisions in the Criminal Code regarding offences of false, indecent, or harassing communications do not currently reflect the increasingly ubiquitous role of telecommunication as a possible medium to bully individuals in a criminal capacity.
Recent incidents of cyberbullying, specifically those involving the non-consensual distribution of intimate images, come with other investigative challenges too. For example, for victims under the age of 18, the use of child pornography provisions to charge individuals may be challenging to align with the intent of these offences. As the previously mentioned cybercrime working group identified, it may be viewed as too blunt an instrument to address the non-consensual distribution of intimate images, especially in situations where the offender is also under the age of 18. These current parameters may have a limiting effect on the investigator's discretion and options in proceeding with appropriate criminal charges.
In closing, many cyber-crimes are essentially very sophisticated ways of committing recognizable offences: theft, fraud, bullying, extortion or child exploitation to name a few. But the criminal use of information technologies, however, creates significant challenges for police investigations.
These challenges include the preservation of evidence, the difficulty in identifying and attributing criminals online, or standards of proof more fitting to “real world” investigations in physical, “non-cyber” domains.
Steps to modernizing offences and investigative tools in the Criminal Code would permit Canadian law enforcement to better address criminal forms of bullying and other crimes in the digital age. I would also emphasize that steps to harmonize Canada's criminal laws and investigative tools with those of its allies would enable the RCMP to more effectively work with international law enforcement partners in addressing the many online crimes that are transnational in character. Bill C-13 would help to address investigative challenges that l've mentioned.
Inspector Armstrong and l look forward to answering your questions.
Good morning, Mr. Chair, and ladies and gentlemen of the committee.
My name is Jean-Michel Blais and I am the Chief of Police, Halifax Regional Police Service. Unfortunately, I was not able to join you today in Ottawa, because my schedule is quite full and I have other commitments. However, given the subject you are studying, I am going to testify by videoconference.
As the Chief of Halifax Regional Police, I am honoured that the committee is giving police and my service an opportunity to lend our voices to this important issue. I would also like to thank Chief Chu for extending an invitation to me to participate in this discussion.
As a member of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and as a chief of police whose community has seen first-hand the devastating consequences of exploitative online behaviour, I fully support the introduction of Bill . It will serve to improve online safety, allow for the effective investigation of Internet and technologically-based crimes, and provide consequences for cyberbullying and the non-consensual distribution of intimate images. With the advent of the Internet, no one could have anticipated the pace of technological advancements or the implications they would have on our society, particularly our youth, who are digital natives as opposed to us, a bit older, who are really digital immigrants.
In this technologically evolving landscape, we in policing are currently faced with some laws that were adopted in the rotary telephone era. We require modernized laws, as proposed in Bill C-13, which reflect the Internet era so that we can more effectively investigate and prosecute those using the Internet and other related technological platforms for a criminal purpose. In short, we need laws that recognize more modern forms of technology that did not exist when certain dispositions of the Criminal Code were first created. Furthermore, we require laws that modernize the investigative tools police can use to detect and combat crime while maintaining citizens' right to privacy. Bill C-13 will do that by providing a set of tools that will allow us to be effective and efficient in conducting investigations in today's high-tech environment while at the same time maintaining the judicial checks and balances needed to protect Canadians' privacy.
I want to share with you some examples from my investigators as to how Bill C-13 will strengthen police investigations and better serve our citizens and our communities. Today, as you know, there is no provision in the Criminal Code to address a person sending or posting intimate images of a person without that person's consent. This has become an increasing problem in society where, given the proliferation of social media, adults and children have becomes victims of cyberbullying and harassment through the non-consensual distribution of their intimate images. The proposed amendments would change that, better protecting all citizens from such acts.
The provisions of Bill C-13 will also provide investigators with the option of charging offenders with the non-consensual distribution of intimate images rather than child pornography offences in circumstances where the image is of a person under the age of 18. We view this of high utility in cases where the offender may also be a youth who, given their age and maturation, may not fully realize the devastating consequences of their actions, yet could currently face a criminal record for child pornography offences. Today's laws were not crafted with that intent in mind, and police believe that the provisions in the proposed amendments provide a more measured and appropriate approach and response in such instances.
On a personal level, I remember in 2003 when I was in charge of Manitoba's integrated child exploitation unit, all of our suspects were males in their 20s and 30s from various backgrounds. Some lived in their parent's basements while others were successful investment dealers and professionals of all stripes. If we had been asked then what the future would reserve for us, we would never have thought that in ten short years, people, including children, would be able to transmit graphic images that would constitute child pornography or result in some form of harassment simply through the use of a hand held cell phone.
This leads me to ponder, as both a police executive and a father of three children, as to what technologies have yet to be created that could result in further exploitation of children and adults. With C-13, it is proposed that offences involving harassing and indecent phone calls be changed to reflect modern means of communication to include harassing and indecent communication via telecommunication, broadening the scope of the offence to reflect today's technologically advanced milieu.
Police will be able to make traditionally sanctioned preservation demands and obtain preservation orders to secure data by telecommunication service providers or social networking sites until such time that investigators are able to obtain a production order or a search warrant to legally obtain the evidence. Currently, information can either be deleted or unpreserved by these entities as there is no legal obligation for them to do so. This is compounded by increasingly shortened data retention periods due to the inconceivable amount of data generated on today's technological platforms.
As I mentioned earlier, online exploitation has had devastating consequences here in Halifax, the effects of which reverberated around the world. To echo Chief Chu, we recognize that changing the law is only one part of the equation. But this bill, when it is coupled with education, awareness, and integrated community services, is a significant step forward in helping police and the community at large to effectively and efficiently deal with cyberbullying and the non-consensual distribution of intimate images, acts that perpetually revictimize the victims.
Ideally, when education and awareness approaches ultimately fail, the justice system must be properly equipped to respond. Nova Scotia has been at the fore of this issue, with introduction of the Cyber-safety Act just over a year ago. This, coupled with the law amendments of Bill , will provide a powerful combination in addressing criminals who exploit or harass the vulnerable online.
As police agencies deal with cyberbullying and the perpetually expansive use of the Internet to commit other cybercrimes, we owe it to all such victims to be able to adequately investigate these files. We must fulfill an advocacy role for all Canadians and send the message that we will no longer tolerate the online victimization of our citizens.
It goes without saying that, as men and women respectful and ever-mindful of their imperious obligation to the rule of law, this must be done in such a way so as to respect the privacy rights of all Canadians. It is for that reason that we at Halifax Regional Police lend our support to this important and required legislation.
Thank you again for this opportunity.
Please allow me to answer in English.
For cyberbullying, a number of existing Criminal Code offences potentially apply, including criminal harassment, uttering threats, mischief in relation to data.
In addition to a new offence of publication of intimate images without consent, Bill also amends other provisions to modernize them, provisions, such as section 342.1, when it talks about “imports, obtains for use, distributes, or makes” available—for instance, the unauthorized use of a computer.
Some forms of harassment or revenge include taking over someone's computer, posting images that appear to be coming from them, and those types of things. In those cases, you're involved in more sophisticated investigations that would have to prove the origin of the virus or the defacing of somebody's website. Now in order to do that, in modern day communications, some communication would travel through multiple networks and through multiple service providers.
As for tools that are offered in Bill , I just want to clarify that there are no provisions in here to give warrantless access to information to the police; all of the proposed investigative measures require prior judicial authorization. So in the case of trying to identify where an attack originated from, there is the communications trace production order that would allow us to identify, by hopping through the network, the service provider that actually may possess content. Then we may obtain a production order to actually find the content and details of the offender. So there are a number of means within this investigative toolkit that is being proposed in Bill C-13 that would assist in other forms of bullying. But I must also emphasize it would also assist in other forms of cybercrime.
Yes, thank you very much, Mr. Wilks, through the chair.
The question for us here is one of time. It's about being able to ensure that, once we have identified where or what that information is, we can be able to properly obtain that information before it gets deleted, first, and before it gets lost, second. You can well appreciate now with the amount of data that is being developed by various sites and within the Internet as a whole, that we're talking about a massive amount. To be able to go back four, five, or six months after the fact, is very challenging. Of course, that being said, the key is to be able to get that information and to get it in such a way that we can bring it towards a proper judicial conclusion in the courts.
With regards to additional tools, what we've experienced on several occasions is individuals who have come to us saying that a photo of their daughter or themself is now on the Internet. Very often, what they're looking for is that the image be taken down. We do not have the tools right now. To be honest with you, I don't even know if those tools can really exist.
From my experience in having worked in child exploitation in the past, the biggest challenge we have is the perpetual revictimization of victims on there. So to answer directly with regards to being able to take them down, it's very difficult. Yes, we can identify certain individuals who may have that image, but as you can well appreciate, and I'm sure many of you follow Twitter, once you tweet a message, it can go all around the world in a matter of moments.
Thank you for the opportunity.
Well, I could touch on a couple of components that will talk about what Bill will do in modernizing investigative tools.
First of all, in my opening remarks I spoke about preservation. Today we are completely reliant upon the voluntary cooperation of entities when it comes to the preservation of data. To allow time for the police to actually develop the production order or a tracking order of some sort to acquire evidence and pursue an investigation further, as proposed in Bill, the police would be able to make a preservation demand of service providers, which would allow us time then to pursue an investigation. And particularly when one speaks of international partners as well.... If it's a domestic investigation, we would have 21 days to prepare a production order. Often we are cooperating in this borderless world of the Internet. It allows 90 days for us and the Department of Justice to work with the International Assistance Group and their international partners to obtain a production order in that process.
The preservation order is another tool that can be used to to preserve the data so that we could then turn to the other means that are available in this bill and in the Criminal Code to obtain more evidence.
With respect to some of the other provisions, they modernize the investigative tools available, and in certain cases they recognize the importance of privacy. Take, for instance, a tracking device. Today, police, under section 492.1, can secure a tracking device in order to monitor location and movements of a thing, which would assist in real-time surveillance, and corroborate other information that we may have during an investigation. It's recognizing the importance of privacy. In the current regime that would include installation of some sort of tool on a mobile device to track an individual, and the threshold there is “reasonable grounds to suspect”. Under the modernized bill that actually increases the threshold for police to “reasonable grounds to believe”. So when it comes to a device that is normally carried or worn by an individual, let's say a cellphone, the threshold for tracking under Bill has actually increased the threshold.
Yes. I'll try to give a broad overview of some of the programs we have in place in Ontario. First, I'll focus on the provincial strategy we have for protecting children against child abuse.
This strategy involves the partnership of 18 police services across Ontario. This strategy started in 2006 and collectively has investigated over 22,000 incidents of child sexual abuse and made countless arrests, and well over 8,000 charges and over 2,500 arrests have been made with respect to that strategy. This is about leveraging our collective input so that together as a police community we can focus on the commonalities we have from one jurisdiction to another, because as we've heard repeatedly today, this crime knows no borders. That strategy is more from an enforcement perspective.
At the community level, we have school resource officers, community services officers who are constantly in touch with the media. We view our media as one of our critical partners in delivering key safety messages right across the board; our school resource officers are working with the kids right in the schools themselves. NeedHelpNow, one amazing tool that's available, we constantly put out to the kids through posters and brochures in the hallways of our schools. This is a very intuitive website that helps direct kids and gives them very quick answers. It gives them guidance on how to tackle this.
The youthconnected.ca that I mentioned earlier is a program that the OPP completely supported, along with the Ontario Provincial Police Youth Foundation and some private partners, to develop this website that was created by teenagers themselves. In that program, it gives lesson plans, for example, that teachers and parents can use to help guide and instruct children on safer Internet practices.
Annually, there's a Safer Internet Day and in those avenues we're constantly educating public displays on safe Internet. Just yesterday in the City of Brockville, there was a kiosk set up in the malls during police week, focusing on safe Internet usage and how to guide, instruct, and educate our children and our teenagers on this phenomenon of sexting, as an example.
There's a lot more going on. Our focus right now is educating our front-line officers to give good advice, that we're giving proper guidance to parents and teachers and teens themselves so that they're not misled and that they don't feel helpless, and that we are there to do our part.
On a broader sense, however, we realize that because of the economics of policing, we're having to capitalize more greatly on our partnership through our framework for action in Ontario for crime prevention, and our community mobilization and engagement of our stakeholders in our community. We alone cannot solve these problems. From an enforcement perspective, we're there. We can provide investigative excellence, but if we do not have community partners at all levels, we will not be able to fill our mandate to keep our communities safe.