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Evidence of meeting #31 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 threat.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Toni Moffa  Deputy Chief, IT Security, Communications Security Establishment Canada
Robert Gordon  Special Advisor, Cyber Security, Canadian Cyber Incident Response Centre, Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
Commissioner James Malizia  Assistant Commissioner Protective Policing, Protective Policing Branch, Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Tony Pickett  Officer In Charge, Technological Crime Branch, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

12:25 p.m.

A/Commr James Malizia

We encourage all MPs and ministers to report any threats they receive so we can investigate them.

Of course, our mandate does not address cyber-security. I will therefore refer the question to my colleague from Public Safety Canada, who is here today.

12:25 p.m.

Special Advisor, Cyber Security, Canadian Cyber Incident Response Centre, Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Robert Gordon

General awareness of what the threats are, or the issues, is a useful thing to try to raise awareness. Public Safety Canada engaged in quite a campaign to do that for Canadians at large. Trying to make citizens aware of what the threats and risks are is a very useful exercise at the preventative or front end of it before incidents actually occur.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Joe Preston

Mr. Hawn, four minutes please.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you to our witnesses.

Mr. Gordon, you talked about—and Mr. Easter asked you a question about it—the threats to vital systems outside the federal government. In your view, what's the level and what are the trends of those vulnerabilities that we're getting? Are the threats increasing in number? Increasing in severity...? Do we have a grip on it?

12:25 p.m.

Special Advisor, Cyber Security, Canadian Cyber Incident Response Centre, Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Robert Gordon

We're learning more about the threats every day. One of the things we're actively engaged in is reaching out to the private sector through a variety of forums of the critical infrastructure centre networks that we've established. We're building up the trust within the private sector for them to come forward to talk about the kinds of experiences they have. We're also establishing mechanisms where they can share amongst themselves the types of experiences and the types of cyber-attacks that they're seeing. So they're learning from one another and we learn from them at the same time.

April 3rd, 2012 / 12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

I want to go back to some comments that Mr. Albrecht made and Mr. Easter commented on as well, as to whether we're talking about this as an individual threat to Minister Toews. I'm going to be asking for an opinion, but in my view it's not just a threat to Minister Toews, it's a threat to the system.

Minister Toews is just a representative of the system doing something that somebody doesn't like, which is the system, not just Minister Toews. In my view, this is a threat to the system of government and not just to an individual minister. Do you have a personal opinion on that?

12:30 p.m.

Special Advisor, Cyber Security, Canadian Cyber Incident Response Centre, Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Robert Gordon

No, I don't have a personal opinion on that.

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

Okay. I'll just lay it out there as my own statement.

Assistant Commissioner, we talked about some of the experiences of other countries, the FBI and so on that have had some limited success in this. Does the RCMP have any experience in similar investigations in recent history, or is this the first one of its kind that you're aware of or can share? I'm not asking for specifics, just are there others?

12:30 p.m.

A/Commr James Malizia

I can say that the RCMP has conducted investigations in the past. We have, as mentioned earlier, a dedicated branch called the technological branch that specializes in this type of area.

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

Could you give us any indication of success or not of these other investigations, or are they still ongoing?

12:30 p.m.

A/Commr James Malizia

Of course I don't have any examples for the committee here today, but I can say there have been successful investigations in the past.

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

Good.

With regard to a point that Madam Latendresse brought up—whether it's paper-based or electronic-based—extortion is extortion under the law. It doesn't matter whether it's a letter or an e-mail, correct?

12:30 p.m.

A/Commr James Malizia

The RCMP will investigate any variety of those.

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

Somebody—I think it was you, Assistant Commissioner—talked about the ignorance of the law. These people don't realize they're breaking the law. So some of them, I guess, may claim ignorance of the law under the influence of their enthusiasm for whatever the cause may be as some level of innocence. Have you run across that sort of attitude? As in, “Gee. I didn't know, so I'm okay. You can't prosecute me.”

12:30 p.m.

A/Commr James Malizia

There have been instances where individuals have provided that as a reason, but also we have seen—and we certainly hope that in those cases where we have sufficient grounds to lay a charge—that it can act as a deterrent.

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

Do you think this process we're going through right now—and again, as I've said before, I don't think we have much of a chance of finding these guys. We may find one, but there are who knows how many others.

Do you think that this process is shedding some helpful light for folks out there that this is not a game, that these are crimes, and that ignorance of the law is not going to be treated as an excuse? Has this process been useful at least in that respect?

12:30 p.m.

A/Commr James Malizia

I'm not in a position to comment on the committee's work and the process, but what I can say is that advances in technology have created an environment where individuals achieve anonymity. Criminals exploit, of course, the faceless environment provided by the Internet to conceal their identity and conduct serious criminal activity. We intend to fully pursue those who do that.

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

So whether you're a pro or an enthusiastic amateur, the law's going to treat you the same way.

12:30 p.m.

A/Commr James Malizia

Yes.

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

Thank you.

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Joe Preston

Mr. Zimmer.

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Thank you, again, for coming today.

We talk about undercover agents in other types of criminal activity. This is a question for Mr. Pickett specifically. Do you have anonymous agents who represent law enforcement to lure out criminals or do you wait for a crime to come to you?

12:30 p.m.

Supt Tony Pickett

I'm sorry. It would be inappropriate for me to comment on a police technique.

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

I thought I'd ask.

I also wanted to know about YouTube, and other sites that are utilized—Twitter, and whatever—by different groups. Not necessarily to Mr. Picket, but to any member of the panel, do you have a relationship with these corporations or companies, that if you need access to some of that information due to criminality, you have relationships where they will be forthcoming with information to out the criminal?

12:35 p.m.

Supt Tony Pickett

Again, I can't comment on the relationships we have with businesses regarding techniques that we would use to try to apprehend criminals or criminal activity.