Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-22. I think most of us in the House will agree that this is important legislation and an important tool for law enforcement officers to combat the criminal activities that are taking place by organized criminals who are preying upon our most vulnerable, the children of our society.
As legislators, we have an obligation, both domestically with our domestic law and as signatories to international conventions, such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which we signed back in 1989 and which came into effect in 1990, to ensure we are doing everything possible to protect children within our society. This is another piece of legislation that is an important tool to do so.
The issue of child pornography has taken on a new importance in this new computer age. We are moving, as we all know, at rapid speed in terms of the new technology being introduced and we need to ensure that the laws are being constantly updated to meet those challenges that are being posed to us by the new technologies being presented to us in society.
The sheer proliferation of child pornography on the Internet poses enormous challenges as well to the laws of enforcement.
Some statistics show that the U.S. accounts for almost 50% of child pornography host sites; Russia is second with about 20%; and Canada, which is a small country by population, is third and accounts for almost 10%. That is not something we should be very proud of. We, as a country, need to do everything possible to ensure that does not take place here in our country. We need to work with our international partners to ensure there are international conventions and tools in place to ensure, internationally, that there is a ban on the hosting of child pornography sites and that we are working collaboratively to stop this situation.
Law enforcement alone does not possess the resources needed to meet the challenges effectively, although their efforts are commendable, but they need those tools and this bill would do that.
We need to place some of this responsibility to combat this issue with Internet service providers. Internet service providers possess the means to assist in this way and they must be compelled to do so. We have heard in this House today several members mentioning that Germany and Sweden have done an excellent job of doing so. We in Canada can be leaders but we can also learn from our partners about how to provide effective tools to combat this.
It is for that reason that I join with my colleagues in supporting this important bill. It is truly distressing to see the large number of cases of child pornography charges being reported in the media. This, unfortunately, is only a small fraction of child pornography to be found on the Internet. More must be done and this bill is a significant step forward.
My community has been directly touched by the scourge of child pornography. On May 12, 2003, 10-year-old Holly Jones was abducted and murdered. Her killer was caught and confessed. He also confessed to being consumed by images of child pornography leading up to the day he abducted this beautiful innocent child. This is unquestionably a direct link between child pornography that this perpetrator viewed and his decision to take the precious life of this young child, Holly Jones.
In 2008, I introduced a bill entitled Bill C-388, which was designed to penalize those who shared child pornography. It is this kind of approach that must be adopted to give law enforcement agencies the tools they need to challenge effectively child pornography at all levels and on all fronts.
It was estimated in a 2003 study that 20% of all pornography traded over the Internet was child pornography, and we can assume that this number has increased since that study.
The United States department of justice noted that at any given time there are one million child pornography images on the Internet. Can anyone Imagine how many millions of images are being traded on a regular basis daily throughout the world? One million images of innocent children being victimized on the Internet.
In 2008, a review of the national laws across 187 nations showed that 93 countries still had no specific laws dealing with child pornography. This is totally unacceptable, and we in Canada must show leadership by putting in place laws that are effective and enforced. Effective laws and enforcement must be the basis on which we fight this scourge.
The law we are debating today would help us to assist law enforcement agencies by giving them an invaluable tool. Internet service providers must assume some level of responsibility for the information that moves through their systems. This laws makes Internet service providers part of the solution to this growing problem.
In fact, clause 4 states:
If a person who provides an Internet service to the public has reasonable grounds to believe that their Internet service is being or has been used to commit a child pornography offence, the person must notify an officer, constable or other person employed for the preservation and maintenance of the public peace of that fact, as soon as feasible and in accordance with the regulations.
Clause 5 goes further to state:
A person who makes a notification under section 4 must preserve all computer data related to the notification that is in their possession or control for 21 days after the day on which the notification is made.
The obligations and duties they must enforce is stated in the law.
I would remind the House that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child requires nations to take the necessary steps needed to combat child pornography. This proposed legislation is clearly a necessary step for us to take in this country.
However, we must remember why we are taking these steps. Children are the victims of child pornography. Innocent lives are devastated by this terrible crime. Psychiatrists speak to the shame and guilt these young victims experience and the profound impact this has on their lives. Most, if they survive, will spend their lives dealing with the fallout of the crimes that have been committed upon them. Their lives are forever diminished and, because of this, any society that does not take effective action is also diminished.
The nature of the Internet lends itself to ever-changing forms of abuse. We are all aware of the recent case in British Columbia where a young girl was assaulted by a group of men at a party. Having had to endure this terrible crime, she also had to deal with the posting of the video of the crime online. This is simply intolerable. The police are to be commended for their quick action in the case but they need help. They need the tools that will strengthen their arsenal for fighting this crime. This bill would ensure in law the responsibility of Internet service providers to be partners in this battle against child pornography.
The scope of this problem is truly astounding. Over the past three years, we have seen charges laid against thousands of people who cross every demography of society. The problem is widespread but there are ways to fight it. One such example is that of Toronto police detective, Paul Gillespie, who recognized the problem of anonymity on the Internet for those who traded in child pornography. He wrote to many organizations and groups, including Microsoft. The result was Microsoft developing a tool called the child exploitation tracking system that allowed police to track the activities of hundreds of child pornographers at one time. This reduced duplication of work and made enforcement much easier.
It is these kinds of initiatives that show we can effectively meet this challenge and that we are dedicated to finding a solution. It is for these reasons that I am proud to vote in favour of this bill. I encourage all members of the House to support this bill.