Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act

An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act, the Competition Act and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act

Sponsor

Peter MacKay  Conservative

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Criminal Code to provide, most notably, for

(a) a new offence of non-consensual distribution of intimate images as well as complementary amendments to authorize the removal of such images from the Internet and the recovery of expenses incurred to obtain the removal of such images, the forfeiture of property used in the commission of the offence, a recognizance order to be issued to prevent the distribution of such images and the restriction of the use of a computer or the Internet by a convicted offender;

(b) the power to make preservation demands and orders to compel the preservation of electronic evidence;

(c) new production orders to compel the production of data relating to the transmission of communications and the location of transactions, individuals or things;

(d) a warrant that will extend the current investigative power for data associated with telephones to transmission data relating to all means of telecommunications;

(e) warrants that will enable the tracking of transactions, individuals and things and that are subject to legal thresholds appropriate to the interests at stake; and

(f) a streamlined process of obtaining warrants and orders related to an authorization to intercept private communications by ensuring that those warrants and orders can be issued by a judge who issues the authorization and by specifying that all documents relating to a request for a related warrant or order are automatically subject to the same rules respecting confidentiality as the request for authorization.

The enactment amends the Canada Evidence Act to ensure that the spouse is a competent and compellable witness for the prosecution with respect to the new offence of non-consensual distribution of intimate images.

It also amends the Competition Act to make applicable, for the purpose of enforcing certain provisions of that Act, the new provisions being added to the Criminal Code respecting demands and orders for the preservation of computer data and orders for the production of documents relating to the transmission of communications or financial data. It also modernizes the provisions of the Act relating to electronic evidence and provides for more effective enforcement in a technologically advanced environment.

Lastly, it amends the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act to make some of the new investigative powers being added to the Criminal Code available to Canadian authorities executing incoming requests for assistance and to allow the Commissioner of Competition to execute search warrants under the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

  • Oct. 20, 2014 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
  • Oct. 1, 2014 Passed That Bill C-13, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act, the Competition Act and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, as amended, be concurred in at report stage.
  • Oct. 1, 2014 Failed That Bill C-13, in Clause 20, be amended by adding after line 29 on page 14 the following: “(2) For greater certainty, nothing in this Act shall be construed so as to abrogate or derogate from the protections for personal information affirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada decision in R. v. Spencer 2014 SCC 43.”
  • Oct. 1, 2014 Failed That Bill C-13 be amended by deleting the short title.
  • Oct. 1, 2014 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-13, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act, the Competition Act and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at report stage of the Bill and one sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said Bill; and that, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration at report stage and on the day allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the stage of the Bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.
  • March 26, 2014 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-13, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act, the Competition Act and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, not more than one further sitting day after the day on which this Order is adopted shall be allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the Bill; and that, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the Bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act
Government Orders

October 10th, 2014 / 10 a.m.
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Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe
New Brunswick

Conservative

Robert Goguen Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to participate in the third reading debate on Bill C-13, the protecting Canadians from online crime act.

Bill C-13 has received wide media attention, and almost every Canadian who has heard about it has had an opinion on it. Unfortunately, much of what has been reported in the media has disregarded the spirit of this legislation, and this has hampered an informed debate on this important piece of legislation.

Bill C-13, in simple terms, would do three very important things that would help make the world safer for Canadians.

First, it proposes to amend the Criminal Code to create new offences for the non-consensual distribution of intimate images, or what some refer to as “revenge porn”. Bill C-13 would also update existing offences, such as the harassing telephone call provision, to make them relevant in the Internet age. Some of these amendments would be particularly useful for police in relation to cyberbullying cases.

The second important component of Bill C-13 is the proposed enhancement of the investigative toolkit police use to deal with cybercrimes and electronic evidence. These amendments, which comprise the modernization of existing investigative powers as well as the creation of new production orders for specific information, would provide Canadian police with the tools that many other police in other countries have been using for over 10 years. The modernization of the toolkit would ensure that police could access the information they need, and only the information they need, to advance an investigation into an offence.

By providing police with these modern tools, Parliament would not only be facilitating the investigation of crimes involving electronic evidence in Canada but would be enhancing privacy protection for Canadians generally by requiring the appropriate level of judicial scrutiny for all information in relation to which there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Finally, Bill C-13 will allow Canada to access and provide greater international cooperation in criminal matters. This is of vital importance because so much evidence in relation to cybercrimes, such as that related to cyberbullying and the non-consensual distribution of intimate images, is stored and located outside of Canada. In many cases, where there is no international cooperation, no investigation can proceed.

As was previously pointed out at the report stage, Bill C-13 was thoroughly reviewed by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. The review involved 10 committee meetings and appearances by over 40 witnesses. While there were appearances by witnesses who opposed aspects of the bill, primarily the investigative tools, many of the witnesses were supportive of the entire legislation package. However, it should be noted that the new intimate images offence received almost universal support, including from members of the opposition.

During his testimony before the justice committee, the Minister of Justice explained that the proposed non-consensual distribution of intimate images offence would prohibit the sharing of sexual or nude images without the consent of the person depicted. It is most important to respond in this manner to cyberbullying that involves this activity, which can cruelly humiliate and shame its target and cause irreparable emotional and psychological harm to the victim, particularly Canadian youth. The minister explained how this would remedy a gap in the criminal law.

The minister also noted that Bill C-13 reflects recommendations made in June 2013 in a federal-provincial-territorial report on cyberbullying and the non-consensual distribution of intimate images, which recommended both the creation of a new offence and updates to the existing offences and investigative tools. The report was unanimously supported by the federal-provincial-territorial ministers responsible for justice and public safety.

The committee also heard from a number of victims of cyberbullying and parents of deceased victims of cyberbullying, many of whom have become advocates for change to better address cyberbullying. Many of these witnesses expressed support for the proposals in Bill C-13. Mr. Glen Canning, the father of Rehtaeh Parsons, expressed concern about the challenge faced by police in trying to respond to modern crimes using antiquated tools. He also believes that had Bill C-13 been law at the time of his daughter's harassment, it would have made a positive difference.

The Committee also heard from police, including the president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, the CACP, and the chief of the Vancouver Police Department, Jim Chu.

The CACP represents over 90% of the Canadian police community, including federal, first nations, provincial, regional and municipal agencies.

Chief Chu clearly stated that the CACP fully supports Bill C-13. He offered the committee compelling testimony on the challenges of crime in the online environment and on its growth in areas of traditional crime, such as harassment, fraud, and kidnapping, as well as in relation to new crimes more closely linked to technological advances. He also explained to the committee the challenges police face because of the international nature of cyber activity.

Chief Chu articulated how technology can facilitate traditional bullying and make it more persuasive and painful. He also expressed concern about the lack of a safe haven and the difficulty of erasing anything from the online environment once it has been distributed. He said rapid intervention is needed before things get worse for victims, who may suffer consequences of this behaviour for the rest of their lives. He explained to the committee that the modernized tools in Bill C-13 are essential for this response.

Chief Chu explained that the bill does not create authority for police to obtain information without judicial warrant and that the police support Bill C-13's proposed judicial oversight as a good way to balance investigative needs and privacy protection. He also noted, however, that these tools need to allow police to respond quickly, which is essential in the online environment.

He also responded to the inaccurate portrayals of Bill C-13, in some instances, as creating authority for police to wiretap without authority. Bill C-13 does not provide police with this power, and they will continue to require prior authorization by the courts to intercept any private communications. Nothing in Bill C-13 changes this.

The committee also heard from Greg Gilhooly, a lawyer who was a victim of an Internet predator when he was in his youth.

Mr. Gilhooly expressed his strong support for the proposals in Bill C-13 and provided the committee with personal insight into the urgency and importance of acting precipitously to enhance the law in this area because, as he put it, “there are monsters among us,” and police need tools to enable them to act and protect Canadians.

The committee also heard from Mr. David Butt, legal counsel for the Kids' Internet Safety Alliance and a front-line criminal lawyer who commended the government for striking the right balance between investigative needs and privacy protections with the proposals in Bill C-13.

I would like to share with members this quote from his testimony to the committee:

...let's have vibrant police powers to investigate digitally, coupled with significant judicial oversight to control those police powers independently. That's the sweet spot that I say this bill hits. That's my measure of success in a bill: does it enable the police to act effectively, but does it also give another branch of government, the judiciary, the appropriate tools to oversee? If you've got both of those, you've got the right mix, and I say you've got the right mix here.

While other witnesses expressed similar views to the committee, I found this a particularly eloquent statement of what Bill C-13 accomplishes.

I would like to continue by citing the support for Bill C-13 expressed by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. Lianna McDonald, the executive director of this organization, appeared before the committee and explained that her organization is a registered charity providing national programs and services related to the personal safety of all children.

Ms. McDonald explained at the committee that her goal in appearing was to provide both insight and support for Bill C-13. After over 30 years of working for child protection, she considered the bill to be something that would address the challenges her organization is very familiar with as first-hand witnesses to what she described as the collision between sexual exploitation, technology, and bullying. She explained to the committee that Cybertip.ca, Canada's national tip line for reporting the online sexual exploitation of children, has received more than 100,000 reports of sexual abuse and exploitation of children, which has resulted in more than 500 arrests and in removing numerous children from abusive environments.

Ms. McDonald expressed concern that technology has become a powerful weapon and tool in the hands of those who wish to hide their criminal behaviour behind a cloak of anonymity, making it easier to engage in reprehensible harassment behaviour. She urged the committee not to fail in understanding the role of technology in the commission of offences and to be conscious of the importance of modernizing the law. She also expressed concern that the privacy rights of victims have been neglected in the focus on privacy issue discussions, and she indicated that Bill C-13 would be fully supported by her organization. Ms. McDonald also expressed support for having the new offence of the non-consensual distribution of images apply to victims of all ages, as the impact of this behaviour is significant regardless of age.

I hope that I have succeeded in conveying the reality of the broader witness testimony, which is that while there were some dissenting voices, many informed and engaged witnesses considered the proposals in Bill C-13 as necessary and advisable. Unfortunately, media coverage focused primarily on those who expressed criticisms of the bill. Some of those criticisms demonstrated a lack of understanding of the proposals.

Another aspect of the proposals that has not reached much attention but that may be of interest to note, given the prevalence of online crime, is the amendments to the Competition Act proposed in Bill C-13.

We know that there are complex forms of white collar crime, and sometimes there are businesses that push the envelope too far and break the law.

The Competition Act is a federal law governing most business conduct in Canada. The Competition Bureau, headed by the Commissioner of Competition, is an independent law enforcement agency responsible for the administration and enforcement of the act. The Competition Act includes both criminal and civil provisions aimed at preventing anti-competitive practices and other harmful conduct in the marketplace. It is designed to ensure that Canadian businesses and consumers prosper in a competitive, innovative marketplace. In particular, the Competition Act sets out certain criminal offences, including, among other things, price fixing, bid rigging, deceptive telemarketing, pyramid selling, and false or misleading representations that are knowingly made recklessly. It also includes civil provisions that deal with false or misleading representations and deceptive marketing practices, mergers, abuse of dominance, agreements between competitors, price maintenance, exclusive dealing, tied selling, and market restriction.

Bill C-13 would amend certain definitions found within the Competition Act to ensure that they are clear and technology neutral and that they align with those in the Criminal Code, the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, and Canada's anti-spam legislation. This bill would also incorporate in the Competition Act, by reference, the new powers in the Criminal Code regarding preservation demands, preservation orders, and production orders for historical transmission data so that they could be used in investigations of all conduct under the Competition Act, both criminal and civil. As is the case throughout the bill, preservation and production orders sought by the bureau would be subject to judicial oversight.

In closing, I strongly support Bill C-13, and I encourage all members to vote in support of this important piece of legislation and to send it for further consideration to that other place.

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act
Government Orders

October 10th, 2014 / 10:15 a.m.
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NDP

Charmaine Borg Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice's speech. I am concerned about two of his comments.

He said that the bill is enhancing “privacy protection”. He also said, “Nothing in Bill C-13 changes this”.

I am very surprised because there is a specific clause in the bill that would grant legal immunity to any Internet service providers that choose to share their clients' personal information when asked by any government agency.

What the government is doing is quite separate from the judicial oversight system and the process for obtaining warrants. I am very curious to know how the member can think that does not violate privacy protection.

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act
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October 10th, 2014 / 10:15 a.m.
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Conservative

Robert Goguen Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, the bill contains an immunity clause pertaining to the submission of documents. As I mentioned in my speech, one of the witnesses who appeared before the committee was Mr. Gilhooly. He is a corporate lawyer who used to work for Global. Mr. Gilhooly was a victim of Graham James, I believe, and he had the courage to come testify.

In his testimony, he said, as a corporate lawyer, that the immunity would allay any doubt corporate lawyers might have about what is already enshrined in law. There is already immunity. Immunity was granted on a statutory basis, which confirms the state of law, before this was done. Nothing has changed.

Mr. Gilhooly said that the immunity set out in the bill would remove any doubts corporate lawyers might have so that they could immediately hand the information over to police. That would allow the police to preserve the evidence. In such situations, the evidence disappears very quickly. Once it has disappeared, an investigation is impossible and it also becomes impossible to protect the victims, who are mostly young children.

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act
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October 10th, 2014 / 10:15 a.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the issue of cyberbullying and the phenomenal amount of exploitation that has taken place on the Internet and through technology has been a significant issue over the last number of years, an issue colleagues of mine within the Liberal Party have brought forth in the form of other pieces of legislation, private member's bills in particular. It is an issue Canadians are concerned about no matter what region of the country we look at.

Given the level of interest and the amount of potential legislative changes opposition parties have brought forward, such as my colleague from Vancouver who represents the Liberal Party, why does the member believe that the government has not really responded? Given the high level of interest in this issue, a keen sense of co-operation among all political parties to do more on the issue, why does he feel that the government has not acted on private members' initiatives that would have gone a long way in addressing some of the concerns he talked about in his speech.

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act
Government Orders

October 10th, 2014 / 10:20 a.m.
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Conservative

Robert Goguen Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, I believe the justice committee struck a very good balance in considering the concerns of the opposition parties. There were 10 meetings. Every single witness requested to appear did appear, and we believe the bill that has come forth has struck a good balance between the privacy rights of those who commit the offences and the protection of those most vulnerable people whom they attack, the children of Canada.

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October 10th, 2014 / 10:20 a.m.
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NDP

Rosane Doré Lefebvre Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to ask the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice a question because, as a young mother, I feel more and more concerned about cyberbullying and all that it entails, particularly when I think about my daughter's future. I am very concerned when I see what can happen to children all across Canada.

What worries me even more about Bill C-13 is that we were unable to reach an agreement with the Conservative government to divide the bill. The official opposition completely agrees with a large portion of the bill. Can the parliamentary secretary explain why the Conservative government is acting in such bad faith when it knows full well that all of the members on this side of the House completely agree with such a large portion of the bill?

The government could split the bill in two and very quickly pass the portion we all agree on so that it could become law as quickly as possible. We could then discuss the part that we still have issues with and come up with amendments or another way to move forward with that part of the bill.

Why is the Conservative government acting in such bad faith and why is it refusing to split Bill C-13 into two separate bills?

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act
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October 10th, 2014 / 10:20 a.m.
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Conservative

Robert Goguen Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, I have to wonder what would have been the point of splitting a bill when all of the witnesses invited by the parties appeared and there were 10 meetings. I am not convinced that the outcome would have been any different.

We believe that this bill truly strikes a balance. It protects the privacy of the victims and the accused, as well as the young and the vulnerable. That is the purpose of this bill, and we believe we have achieved it.

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act
Government Orders

October 10th, 2014 / 10:20 a.m.
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NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, what we put forward makes a lot of sense, because even the Minister of Justice agreed to one of our amendments, but the government refused it. Basically, the member is telling us that all of the witnesses appeared, but he is not telling us that all of them were in favour of this.

Mr. David Fraser said:

Even though the definition excludes content, just the transmission data tells you a lot more about really what's going on.

I would suggest this can be fixed by either raising the standard from reasonable grounds to suspect to reasonable grounds to believe with respect to this data, or re-crafting the definition of transmission data....

He added a little bit more, but the whole idea here is that although the government allows witnesses to appear, it does not listen to what the witnesses are saying. Again, we see a government that continues to victimize the victims and makes it legal to do illegal things.

Can the minister indicate whether or not the government is absolutely sure that this will not constitute a constitutional debate?

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act
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October 10th, 2014 / 10:20 a.m.
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Conservative

Robert Goguen Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, each and every law, before it is adopted, goes through very rigid scrutiny as to its constitutionality. This is a procedure that we have followed. We believe that it has struck the right balance.

Certainly, there are witnesses who were not in favour of the bill, as there were many who were in favour of it. However, the key issue is that in intercepting information to protect the most vulnerable, the children, there is always a level of judicial oversight. The courts are the protectors of the charter. The courts intervene in each instance to make sure that the privacy rights of the accused are protected, as are the rights of those who are being victimized.

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act
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October 10th, 2014 / 10:25 a.m.
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NDP

Raymond Côté Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the parliamentary secretary for his speech, which I found very enlightening, especially with respect to the Conservatives' usual tactic: pretending to be the victims of the mean old media that focus heavily on their bill's shortcomings.

The parliamentary secretary's affirmation that every single government bill goes through rigid scrutiny before making its way to the House of Commons is not reassuring at all. Both the parliamentary secretary and I know very well that, over the past nine years, several of the bills that the Conservative government pushed through have had parts struck down by court rulings, even by the Supreme Court.

In Spencer, for example, the Supreme Court prohibited Internet service providers from disclosing their clients' names and contact information to law enforcement officials who simply ask for it.

Is the parliamentary secretary not worried about yet another fiasco resulting from his obstinacy?

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act
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October 10th, 2014 / 10:25 a.m.
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Conservative

Robert Goguen Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, since Confederation, the Supreme Court has ruled on constitutionality in a number of cases. That is the beauty of our democracy. Bills are passed and analyzed, and then the brightest legal minds of the Supreme Court get us back on the right track when we stray.

Investigations will always be subject to judicial review. The court determines the value of a request to protect victims.

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act
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October 10th, 2014 / 10:25 a.m.
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NDP

Charmaine Borg Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is very disappointing that we are once again being forced to debate a very important bill under a time allocation motion. I have lost track somewhat, but I think this is the 80th time allocation motion. It has happened so many times under this government that there have been many complex, important bills that we have not had a chance to debate.

On top of that, the government decided to hold the third reading debate on this extremely important bill on a Friday, when everyone knows that most members are not present in the House on Fridays. I think that is appalling.

I would also like to talk about the vote at second reading. There was a vote at report stage and another one on this part of the bill, and it was revised in committee. That said, I must denounce the fact that the Liberal Party voted in favour of the bill, even though it had criticized the bill repeatedly. It boggles my mind. I am not normally a member of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, but I was there when this bill was being studied.

When they were asking the parliamentary secretary questions, some members said that the bill's first aim was to address bullying. On that issue, at least, we agree 100% with the Conservatives. All members on all sides of the House agree that cyberbullying must be stopped, for it is a very serious issue.

New technology has completely changed the problem of bullying. In the past, once you were home, nasty people at school could no longer bother you, since you were in a safe place. These days, new technology and social networks allow bullies to follow us everywhere.

If someone does not like what you wore to school, it will be shared on Facebook or in an email. Disturbing images can also follow us. Unfortunately, that is what happened in a couple of highly publicized cases, such as the Amanda Todd case. No matter what she did, that image followed her. I agree completely that this must be stopped.

That is why we asked that the bill be split. That way, we could pass the essential elements and make positive changes to combat cyberbullying and non-consensual distribution of images. It is too bad that the government did not have the good sense to get this part passed quickly. We agreed to do so. This part of the bill could have been at the other place by now. Unfortunately, the government did not want to go ahead.

It is a real shame because cyberbullying is a very important issue to me. I would like to use my 20 minutes to talk about only the parts of the bill that have to do with cyberbullying. Unfortunately, I cannot because we also have to talk about the problematic parts of this bill that could have very serious consequences for Canadians' privacy.

Victims of cyberbullying deserve better. The families of cyberbullying victims came to committee to share their stories. They were very courageous. Nonetheless, there are thousands of other cases that are not in the media, unfortunately or fortunately, I am not sure which. These victims deserve a debate on this issue alone. Unfortunately, we must debate both because this government is incapable of co-operating.

Some of my constituents are working very hard to combat cyberbullying. Someone even developed a website to create a safer social network where people cannot be anonymous. It is very interesting.

I want to point out all the daily efforts these people are making. Some are forming groups to combat cyberbullying. These are truly exceptional Canadians, and I want to thank them.

We have to talk about the other aspects because, unfortunately, very few pages and clauses of this bill really have anything to do with cyberbullying. The vast majority are on changes to the Criminal Code. Some parts of the bill are just fine, but others will seriously jeopardize Canadians' privacy.

The government keeps talking about the judicial oversight system for obtaining warrants to get personal information. Indeed, some parts of the bill call for a warrant. I will talk about the problems with warrants later.

However, what the government did not say in its speech and what it seems to have completely forgotten about is that a parallel system is being created, and that it completely bypasses all the mechanisms for obtaining warrants. That was part of the government's own bill. We are completely setting aside judicial oversight, which is the basis for our legal systems. We are creating a parallel system where someone can pick up the phone, call an Internet service provider and make an urgent request, and the service provider will send the information. The Liberals created this loophole in the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act and the Conservative government is taking advantage of it.

We know that there have been abuses. The acting information and privacy commissioner announced that in one year, government agencies made at least 1.2 million requests for information from Internet providers. That is huge. I have trouble believing that there are 1.2 million terrorists, for example, or 1.2 million criminals running around in the streets and that we need to obtain information about them.

Furthermore, it was the Internet service providers that informed us about the 1.2 million requests, not the government, which has shown an appalling lack of transparency. It does not want to give us that information.

Also, there was no explanation as to why these requests were made. There is no oversight system for these types of requests that could guarantee to Canadians that they were made in extraordinary cases. I believe that Canadians are prepared to accept extraordinary cases. There are urgent situations where we cannot turn to the regular processes and where we must obtain a warrant after the fact. However, in light of the 1.2 million requests, I find it hard to believe that Canadians would not think that there had been abuses and that there is a flaw somewhere.

I actually asked the government a question on the order paper about how many times it requested this kind of information from Internet service providers. That was just for one year, 2012-13. The Canada Border Services Agency said that it had made over 13,000 requests in one year. I asked the agency what kinds of cases or situations would result in such requests being made. Only two of the 13,000 requests were made for national security reasons. Can we honestly say that these are exceptional cases or national security cases? I think not. The question was asked, but the answer did not cut it.

I asked the government another question because it was not going to share that information. I asked how many times government agencies had made such requests for 2001, which is when the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, PIPEDA, was passed. Here is something very disturbing: they did not have the data. We were told that there was no system to keep track of those kinds of requests and that the information could not be provided.

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act
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October 10th, 2014 / 10:30 a.m.
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NDP

Charmaine Borg Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

For crying out loud. The member behind me said that because it is true. For crying out loud. They would have us believe that they can use this back door to ask Internet service providers for personal information, such as a person's IP address, but that they cannot track this stuff.

The government is saying that it cannot go back to determine, for example, how many requests were made and how many of those cases had to do with cyberbullying, child exploitation, national security or anti-terrorism. It claims that it does not have that data. How are we supposed to make sure that this is not being abused? Exploiting loopholes has become the norm, and that poses tremendous problems.

This bill grants legal immunity to Internet service providers that choose to share their clients' personal information when requested to do so by any government agency or on their own initiative. However, most of the time, it is government agencies that make a request.

A parallel system ensured that an Internet service provider that shared data it had no right sharing could be sued if it abused the process. That is the one and only aspect that gave people any sense of security.

In certain cases, Internet service providers refused to respond to a request because they did not want to take the risk of being sued. Bill C-13 takes away this one thing that made Internet service providers think twice. That is a major problem.

When the Conservative and Liberal members—since they voted together—say they want to ensure that there is balance and a warrant system, that is false, for they seem to be forgetting that they gave Internet service providers legal immunity in this bill.

Furthermore, the IP address reveals a great deal of information about users, including their conversations and where they go. Contrary to what the Conservatives like to say, it is not the same information that can be found in the phone book.

I talked a lot about the shortcomings created by PIPEDA. Rather than correcting the situation, the provisions in Bill C-13 make matters worse. In addition to providing legal immunity, Bill C-13 also reduces the threshold for intercepting communications—that is, the content of an email or text message—to reasonable suspicion.

There already was a threshold for obtaining a warrant, which was good. We should respect existing thresholds for being able to access personal information or communications. However, that threshold has been reduced to “reasonable suspicion”, which opens the door to abuse.

I would like to point out another very specific aspect of this bill. If government agencies can ask Internet service providers to hand over personal information, public servants will have access to that information with a simple phone call. Here is how “public officer” is defined in Bill C-13:

“Public officer” means a public officer who is appointed or designated to administer or enforce a federal or provincial law and whose duties include the enforcement of this or any other Act of Parliament.

I can think of many positions that would be included in this definition, including mayors. There are good mayors and bad mayors. Can they all be trusted? Are there any provisions to prevent abuse? No. This just opens the door wider.

When this bill was examined in committee, the NDP proposed 37 amendments, which were all rejected. We heard from a number of witnesses, and contrary to what the parliamentary secretary just said, the witnesses did not all agree.

Here is what Carol Todd, Amanda Todd's mother, had to say:

I do not want my privacy invaded. I do not want young people's privacy compromised. I do not want personal information being exploited without a protection order that would support individuals. I do not want any Canadian hurt in my daughter's name. I want her legacy to continue to promote hope, celebrate our differences, and give strength to other young people everywhere.

I think she would have been pleased to see us split this bill. She does not want anyone's privacy to be invaded, or the threshold for obtaining communications to be lowered, or for government agencies to be given access to personal information without a warrant. That is what she wants for her daughter's legacy. It is really quite clear.

There is another aspect that the committee was unable to assess because it happened after review in committee and that is the Supreme Court ruling in Spencer. It is an extremely important ruling that brought certainty to something that may have been rather vague before. In Spencer, the Supreme Court ruled that no one could have access to clients' names, addresses, telephone numbers and IP addresses without a warrant. Nonetheless, in Bill C-13 we just included statutory immunity for Internet service providers who share information without a warrant.

There is some serious and legitimate uncertainty as to whether these parts of the bill are constitutional and whether they will be blocked.

That being said, why could we not have sat down together and sorted this out? We know that the Conservative government seems to be short on respect for the Constitution and the Supreme Court's rulings, as we saw during the process for appointing a new justice to the Supreme Court. It is the government's responsibility to ensure that every bill, every law it wants to enforce respects the Canadian Constitution. It is the government's fundamental duty. When the Conservatives say that there was a review, that legal experts assessed the bill to ensure it was consistent with the Constitution, that is great, but the Spencer ruling was handed down after the bill was drafted.

I am puzzled by something else. As we know, the government is refusing to respond to this decision. It claims that everything is in order and that the bill is constitutional even though many experts doubt that it will pass the test of the Constitution in light of the Spencer ruling. What is interesting is that we expected the government to respond, but it was actually the Internet service providers that did so. Now Rogers and TELUS will no longer respond to requests for information about their clients made by government agencies. Why is the government not taking its responsibilities seriously by declining to make these requests? That would be the responsible thing for the government to do. Instead, it is the other side doing this. That really bothers me.

I agree completely that we must amend the law. It must keep pace with new technologies and the new problems that society faces. Many new things are happening, and we have to keep up to date. However, we cannot and should not put the protection of people ahead of the protection of privacy. We can find a balance. No matter what the Conservative MPs would like to think, this is not a balanced bill. Furthermore, there is a high probability that it is unconstitutional. It is therefore very problematic.

The government says that it is opening the door, that it is all right in certain situations. Yes, there are exceptional cases. However, I am afraid that the government is violating privacy and that once it opens the door, it will open it wider. Where will that take our society?

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act
Government Orders

October 10th, 2014 / 10:45 a.m.
See context

NDP

Jean Rousseau Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague and acknowledge her contribution to this debate.

Why did the government not split the bill in two as the NDP asked in committee? That would have made it easier to meet the growing needs regarding cyberbullying and the protection of personal information. Those are two very different things. As my colleague said earlier, this bill will allow for the invasion of privacy and we do not know how far it will go. The bill does not set any limits in that regard.

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act
Government Orders

October 10th, 2014 / 10:45 a.m.
See context

NDP

Charmaine Borg Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague is absolutely right. We asked for the bill to be divided. The provisions pertaining to cyberbullying, namely the specific clauses that deal with the distribution of images without consent, could already be law and could already be protecting children.

The government decided to run television ads to announce the fight against cyberbullying when a law to that effect has not yet been passed. Things could be different if we could work together properly. I have already mentioned this, but I find it very disappointing that I had to spend about 15 of the 20 minutes of my speech talking about privacy. I really would have liked to speak on behalf of the victims of cyberbullying in my riding and across Canada and let them know that we are going to take action and work together. Unfortunately, the government put these two parts of the bill together and the debate is about both of them.

What is more, as a result of the Spencer ruling, some provisions of the bill will likely be deemed unconstitutional, which will block the entire bill. If we could have had a bill that included only the provisions about cyberbullying, this would not have been a problem, and we could have considered whether some of the provisions were constitutionally legitimate.