Evidence of meeting #28 for Procedure and House Affairs in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was security.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

11:45 a.m.

Clerk of the House of Commons

Audrey O'Brien

Mr. Chair, Mr. Garneau's description of the situation is, in my opinion, very appropriate.

You were speaking about being hacked on your Twitter account. The important thing to know is that because you are on Twitter you are outside any kind of protective network, so basically anything goes. That's the whole other side of the social media thing.

Regarding the question of privilege referred to the committee, based on my understanding of what was said, everyone, no matter the political party, agrees that by issuing these threats, the Anonymous crossed certain lines. As members, you lead a public life, and in these conditions, you are ready to have your political positions attacked, but threats against a person are unacceptable. I know this statement may seem to lead to nothing, but it is important, in my opinion, that everyone unite to say that

there are lines that ought not to be crossed.

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Joe Preston

Monsieur Hawn, take four minutes, please.

March 15th, 2012 / 11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Edmonton Centre, AB

Thank you, Chair.

Thank you all for being here.

Mr. Bard, I just want to clarify this. You said that 70% of the e-mails that approach the House of Commons never get to our computers. Well, first of all, thank you. I appreciate this.

11:45 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Edmonton Centre, AB

That's an astounding number. Is it all spam? What are those?

11:45 a.m.

Chief Information Officer, House of Commons

Louis Bard

It could be spam. There are a lot of rules. The e-mail has to be valid, it has to be addressed properly, it has to have a proper sender. You cannot send an e-mail just to “Parliament”; it has to be addressed to a member of Parliament. Also, you cannot replace who the sender is. It cannot be a group sending.

We have a long list of rules that over the years, following industry best practices, we have applied to make sure we do not corrupt or fill your mailbox with unwanted e-mails that have no meaning.

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Edmonton Centre, AB

That's excellent.

We could all ask the same question, to editorialize a bit. Everybody supports free speech. Whether I agree with the person or not, I appreciate somebody's courage in being willing to speak up about whatever and identify himself or herself. I think it's safe to say that Anonymous is a coward. I have nothing but contempt for anybody or any organization that abuses free speech in this way.

Clearly, extortion is a crime, and I hope that the RCMP and whoever else.... As Marc said, they're like the Taliban: we'll never run out of them; they're always going to be there. But I think we should take any chance we get to track one down and make an example, and I hope they are proceeding with that.

Mr. Bard, we talked about the constituency set-ups, and you have advice. Is there anything to be gained by imposing on your good offices if anybody wants to have somebody come to assess what is happening in a constituency office by way of protection? I realize that there are 308 of us and that this might be a little onerous, but is this something we should be looking at?

11:50 a.m.

Chief Information Officer, House of Commons

Louis Bard

Yes. We offer that service—not sending somebody to your local office, but we can arrange to provide consultation and work with your office and advise you accordingly.

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Edmonton Centre, AB

At the risk of putting words in your mouth, would that be a pretty good idea for all 308 of us to do, if we haven't done it?

11:50 a.m.

Chief Information Officer, House of Commons

Louis Bard

Well, it's really the member's privilege to ask for this. I will advise that if you have not developed for your office this kind of plan, business continuity strategies, how do you secure your environment? How do you allow your volunteers to work on your network? How do you know it's the right person you're calling on a conference call? There's so much that is under your control.

I always say that my best clients are the members and my biggest risks are the members and their staff and the employees of the House.

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Edmonton Centre, AB

Yes, you bet.

Here is a technical question, going back to Anonymous and YouTube. YouTube can technically identify who put those videos on the site. Is that a true statement or not?

11:50 a.m.

Chief Information Officer, House of Commons

Louis Bard

I think this is the difficulty, because those who act as “Anonymous” are very creative. You can receive something from China that was issued here in Ottawa. They specialize in scanning the environment and identifying weaknesses and vulnerabilities of technologies; that's what they do. Very often they get their dirty work done by others. They will give the open door, the possibility to post something to activate a script.

This is a very complex situation. We've seen cases in the States in which they worked for more than two years and finally identified five of them. But it took two years to find them, and this group is in constant mutation. Every day, it's a difficult task. It's beyond the boundaries of Canada; it's worldwide.

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Edmonton Centre, AB

Yes, and not to get into methodologies, would organizations like CSEC have the capacity to follow those chains back, whether it comes through China or wherever? Do we have the technical capacity to do that?

11:50 a.m.

Chief Information Officer, House of Commons

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Joe Preston

I'm sorry, but your time is complete.

Mr. Comartin.