House of Commons Hansard #69 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was federal.


Message From The SenateGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members


Message From The SenateGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

It being 5.30 p.m. the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

The House resumed from April 6 consideration of the motion.

Computer HackersPrivate Members' Business

5:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ted White Canadian Alliance North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to clarify that one of my colleagues had seven minutes remaining in his time but I will not be using that seven minutes. This will be the start of a new segment.

Computer HackersPrivate Members' Business

5:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I wonder if the House might see fit to extend its co-operation to the Chair. The member for Calgary Northeast had time remaining on his intervention the first time this motion was debated. However I have already given the floor to the member for North Vancouver. If the House sees fit, I will allow the hon. member for North Vancouver to conclude his remarks and we would then come back to the member for Calgary Northeast.

Computer HackersPrivate Members' Business

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members


Computer HackersPrivate Members' Business

5:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ted White Canadian Alliance North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am glad that was resolved in an amicable manner.

I should read the motion again so that anybody who has forgotten exactly what we are discussing here today in terms of the motion will have their minds refreshed. The motion reads:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should immediately amend the Criminal Code to create a separate category of offences and punishments for computer hackers and persons who wilfully or maliciously export computer viruses, both of whose activities disrupt the normal conduct of electronic business in Canada.

I decided I would join this debate because of an interesting first hour that was concluded a couple of weeks ago. I noticed during that debate that the government side at first did not put up any speakers. It put up a couple of speakers right at the end and more or less said the whole thing was silly because there were already areas of the criminal code that dealt with the issue. Those speakers quoted areas of the criminal code that were introduced in 1985.

The first thing that struck me was that governments have never been known for their forward looking legislation. How could it be that way back in 1985, when a lot of people did not even know what a computer was, the government had such a far seeing attitude to legislation that they incorporated something in the criminal code to take care of computer viruses that would not appear until the year 2000?

I took a closer look at this and am not quite sure what the government's motives are. The way the government is approaching the motion is to say there is no need for it because it can be covered by the area of the criminal code that deals with mischief.

What sort of deterrent is it to hackers and people who propagate viruses on the Internet that they might be prosecuted for mischief? Even if the penalty, a maximum of 10 years, is reasonable it does not carry any feeling of deterrence when it is called mischief. It is mischief to call it mischief.

These are very serious crimes. The fact that the private members' business committee, which determines whether or not a motion will be votable, determined that this motion will be votable indicates to me that the committee considers this a very serious topic. The government members present, who dominate that committee, obviously felt there was nothing in the criminal code that dealt with the issue in enough detail that it should be dismissed.

We then have the evidence that the member who proposed the motion gave in his speech. He said that police are frustrated because they too feel that the present provisions of the criminal code do not deal with the issue. They are faced with charging people with mischief instead of charging people with something that has a much more serious connotation.

I would request that the government take a closer look at the position it is taking on the issue and at its motives. What are its motives for not wanting to include something a little more specific that would act as a deterrent, that could be used by the police if they were talking to somebody suspected of being involved in this sort of crime? Instead of simply calling it mischief, police should be able to tell such people that section such and such of the criminal code deals with what they are doing and that they are putting themselves into a position where they could be subject to prosecution.

All of us who have become used to working on computers over the last few years would have had some sort of experience with hacking or computer viruses. I have had experience with both. I have a computerized database set up between my riding and the Hill. I do not use Microsoft Access which is the most common system here. I use a program called Maximizer which co-ordinates the databases among my riding, my laptop computer and Ottawa.

If I am on a flight from Vancouver to Ottawa I type up my next report for the North Shore News , a local newspaper. When I get to Ottawa I simply go to a telephone line and, using dial-up networking, update my main office in Vancouver with whatever I have done. That office is called the Superpeer. It updates Ottawa.

These activities go on all through the day. It happens automatically every night, but through the day we can force these updates. At any time I have three complete databases which contain all the information about all the contacts we have had with constituents over the years, every letter we have ever written, every fax we have ever sent and every e-mail we have ever sent. It is all in these three different places.

Because part of that is done through dial-up networking, some hacker trying to find phone lines with computers on the end of them found one of my computers in Vancouver and tried to hack into our system.

Luckily we had a pretty good firewall set up so no problem was caused. However the opportunity exists for someone to do it. Our records from the computer indicate that somebody dialled in a number of times and spent up to two hours trying to break into our system.

That is serious. It was not just a passing, spur of the moment thing that someone did. It was a concerted effort to break in perhaps without even knowing what computer it was. Presumably they knew it was a federal government computer because the telephone number in Vancouver started with 666. Incidentally many people say that number is appropriate for the federal government in that 666 is the sign of the devil or the sign of the beast. They must have known it was a federal government computer.

That was one experience. Luckily it did not turn out too badly. However I had another experience. I brought my laptop to the Hill and connected to the network one day last year before the last election. Somehow a virus had got into the Library of Parliament system and it got on to my computer.

At that stage I did not have an updated InocuLAN. We all have InocuLAN virus detection on our systems, but I did not have the updated version. The virus ran amok on my computer. It took about three days to get it rectified. It was very serious. Thank goodness I had the other two databases in Ottawa and North Vancouver so that we were able to erase what was on my computer and start again.

These are serious problems. They are not just mischief. They are not something that can be covered by the section of the criminal code that the government spouts, something that was passed back in 1985, a catch-all phrase to catch little bits and pieces that might be a problem.

We need a deterrent, something that can be publicized in the media saying that parliament has passed a law respecting a certain section of the criminal code so that anyone launching a virus or attempting to hack into a computer is subject to a penalty and a fine. To do something more substantial like that is a much better idea.

On balance we should support the motion. It was made votable for a good reason. It is tough to get motions and private members' bills made votable. The member achieved it in this case. We should support what he is proposing and try to get an extra line or two into the criminal code.

In closing, I say again that I do not understand the government's motives. How hard can it be to pop something into one of the omnibus bills it has coming through here? It could add an extra line to the criminal code. It does it all the time, so what is the problem? I hope government members will rise today and tell us exactly why they have a problem in this regard. If they cannot come up with a good reason they should be voting for Motion No. 80.

Computer HackersPrivate Members' Business

5:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Art Hanger Canadian Alliance Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I was unable to make it here at the appropriate time and I thank you and the House for providing me this opportunity.

It is my pleasure to debate the private member's motion in the name of my colleague from Saskatoon—Humboldt. It would create a separate category of criminal offences for computer hackers or people who wilfully disrupt the conduct of electronic business in Canada.

I had a minor introduction to this type of criminal activity for approximately one year when I was with the Calgary police department investigating commercial crime. It seemed then like it was catch up. The electronic media or communications aspect was growing at such a rate that police agencies across the country were not on the cutting edge of attempting to curb this illegal activity.

I believe that is the way it always will be. Communication is expanding at such a rate that it will always leave the agencies behind even though they will try to put the necessary resources into performing their investigations. However the resources required to conduct investigations into electronic criminal offences will be horrendous. I believe it would have to certainly be looked at from a national level. National police agencies and national agencies of all kinds should and must get involved to counter it.

Just a few days ago I bought a little instrument called a BlackBerry. Little did I know just how effective these instruments were. It is like carrying a computer around with me everywhere I go. Yes, I feel very high tech right now. It is strapped to my side. I am afraid to take it off as I might bleed to death. It really is quite an instrument. I can e-mail to any computer, definitely in North America, from this very small hand-held device. I can send and receive messages from the palm of my hand.

The other intriguing thing about this particular instrument is that it is a Canadian innovation. It just shows how wireless communication systems are encroaching upon just about every form of activity we have. It allows Canadians and others easier access to one another even though they may be thousands of miles away, in differing venues or circumstance. Students in Victoria can research information at a library in Prince Edward Island or Toronto as easily as they can in their hometown. Seniors can make daily contact with their grandchildren living at the other end of the earth for that matter.

Speaking of the BlackBerry, it just went off on my side, so somebody right now is sending me a message. It is certainly not within this House, so it could be from almost anywhere. It is all written text. It is quite a unique device.

This business has been revolutionized to the nth degree. The speed of this communication certainly is not going to slow down.

The other point that brings focus to electronic endeavours, or intrigue, is online marketing and the fact that we can bank with these machines. There is no question that with all of this access there will be fraud. It just seems more certain than not that fraudulent activity will take place as the electronic world develops at a pace that is almost unbelievable.

The Internet has become the essential tool for Canadian businesses and consumers, so it poses a serious security problem for all involved. As more and more companies and government agencies computerize and network confidential databases, the privacy of Canadians is increasingly put at risk by hackers.

It was not too long ago when I heard that even police departments and the military had their computers entered illegally.

It is a very significant concern when we start looking at confidential security matters. As more Canadians use the Internet and more businesses collect increasing amounts of information, the security problems I have pointed out will increase. That is why this is an area where the government needs to step in. The current criminal code revisions are simply not strong enough.

My colleague's motion seeks to have the government introduce a bill that would provide specific provisions in the criminal code which police could use to charge people engaged in either hacking or exporting computer viruses.

I agree with my colleague that the penalty for such acts should be quite severe. Malicious damage and manipulation of computer networks and databases should be treated as theft and vandalism. It is a deliberate attack on someone else's property and a threat to the privacy of all Canadians. These are serious offences. It is no different than physically breaking into someone's home or business and rummaging through their files.

We should do what we can do to ensure that Canadians gain unique benefits from the Internet, while knowing that there is a sufficient legal framework in place to protect them from unwanted intrusions. I urge all hon. members to support Motion No. 80.

Computer HackersPrivate Members' Business

5:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Clearly the House has rules about props. I am not sure about commercials yet. That is something we will have to research further.

Computer HackersPrivate Members' Business

5:35 p.m.


Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the hon. member for Saskatoon—Humboldt on his private member's motion. Before I deal with the substance of the motion, I would like to make a comment.

I have read the remarks of the sponsor of the motion. He reminded us that, besides the debate he wants to initiate on computer hacking, we need to discuss the private members' business process. It is not normal that mere chance should determine how and when members will be able to introduce bills or motions. It is a lottery system that determines which business will be selected for the consideration by the House. The same system determines also which motions will be made votable.

I think that system has to be reviewed. In fact, we had a debate in the House on this very issue on a Tuesday night, in April if I am not mistaken. I hope the House leaders from every party will examine the issue.

I do not think that the Bloc Quebecois can support this motion as it stands now. I say this regretfully, because we are always favourably disposed, in principle, toward private members' business. That is the opportunity, in the system, to stress initiative. In spite of what the Parliamentary Secretary to the Solicitor General may think, we are always favourably disposed, in principle, toward private members' business.

This is the opportunity, in our parliamentary system, to encourage members' initiatives and also to distance ourselves, which is critical, from the executive and Cabinet, which, as we know, often plays an inordinate role in our parliamentary system.

For purposes of clarity, I would like to reread the motion:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should immediately amend the Criminal Code to create a separate category of offences and punishments for computer hackers and persons who wilfully or maliciously export computer viruses, both of whose activities disrupt the normal conduct of electronic business in Canada.

When I first read the motion, I said to myself that it made sense. We all know that it would be very hard to live without the computer nowadays. We also know that a person who has no basic knowledge of computers and who does not have at least some ability to surf the Internet will soon be considered illiterate.

New products are related to the computers and these products have a life cycle of five years. Every five years, new products are introduced, and we constantly have to adapt.

I would like to remind our viewers that each party leader has access to some computer facilities. We all know how computers are an integral part of our ability to do our work as parliamentarians, and this also holds true for a variety of sectors in society.

I have asked myself if there is something in the criminal code to meet the objectives of our colleague, the member for Saskatoon—Humboldt.

I read section 430 of the criminal code, and I do not understand how this section, which already exists and can be applied immediately, will not allow us to achieve the objectives pursued by the member through his motion, that is, punishing people who use computers to disrupt electronic business.

When people disrupt electronic business by introducing viruses, they destroy data banks and a part of the economy, because today we can pay bills and make business transactions through computers. With some financial institutions, we can even get authorized loans. There is a whole area of computer science that is developing, which is called domatique, and which will ensure that, as consumers, we will be able, from our homes, to make transactions that would have been unthinkable a few years ago.

Section 430 provides for an offence system. I remind members that the criminal code is a legislation. Several times in the House, we have amended the criminal code. We have amended it to include aggravating circumstances. Section 718 of the criminal code says that, when a person is abusing gays, for example, the judge assessing the case will have to impose a more severe sentence. This is the heinous crime legislation.

Tuesday, in the standing committee on justice, we considered each clause of Bill C-24, which provides a framework on the whole issue of anti-gang legislation. Clause 24 says that certain offences or helping organized crime is punishable by 14 years in prison.

I could draw up a fairly long and comprehensive list of the circumstances for which the lawmaker saw fit to amend the criminal code. But I believe we should not overdo it. The criminal code is complex enough as it is, both in terms of its interpretation and its enforcement. Let us not forget that the criminal code is a federal act, but that the provinces have to enforce it.

We want to make it very clear that by taking part in this debate we will ask members of the Canadian Alliance—those who are still in it and those who have left—to explain why we need new provisions. We do not understand why section 430 would not allow the objectives sought by our colleague from Saskatoon—Humboldt to be met.

We understand, of course, that economic crimes are often committed through the Internet. Mafia boy is a case in point. In an article I read, it is said that the damage caused by this young computer whiz, who is just over ten years of age, when he broke in to a number of systems, including those of the FBI, the CIA and several big American bureaus of investigation, is estimated at $1.7 billion.

As parliamentarians, we are right not to take this lightly. I suppose that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Solicitor General of Canada, who is very vigilant regarding the RCMP's activities, will remind us that there is within the RCMP a section dealing with economic crimes committed through Internet and computers.

Again, we understand the hon. member's concerns. There have been fundamental changes in computers. Computers are no longer for recreational purposes only, as they were when I started using them. We used them to get information, and we used them a lot for recreational purposes.

Nowadays, many services are linked to economic development. Major economic players use computers as a matter of course, for their transactions.

Only last week, I had to get involved. In Quebec, the Mouvement Desjardins is rationalizing its services and facilities. Unfortunately, there is a relationship between the fact that people are relying less on bank tellers and more on computers. The issue is to maintain jobs. It makes us realize that computers have permeated many aspects of our daily lives that we would not have thought possible just a few years back.

I certainly do not want to give the impression that we are not aware or mindful of all the ramifications of the various computer applications. However, we do not believe that a new set of offences is needed.

We should be able to reach our goals with section 430 of the criminal code. For all these reasons, we would hope to get more details on this issue, but unless we get some very convincing explanations, we will be voting against the motion.

Computer HackersPrivate Members' Business

5:45 p.m.

Waterloo—Wellington Ontario


Lynn Myers LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I will begin by thanking the member for Saskatoon—Humboldt for bringing this motion to the attention of the House. It clearly is an issue of great concern and certainly is an issue of importance, not only nationally but internationally as well.

I also want to express my appreciation of the views related to this issue that have been expressed by a number of members in the House. For example, the member for Hochelaga—Maisonneuve made some very important points about the criminal code, mafia boy and others, some of which I will highlight later in my speech as well.

It is fair to say that issues relating to cybercrime, such as hacking and malicious virus dissemination, have been widely reported over recent months and have caused governments, industry and the public great deal of concern.

I think it is fair to say too that criminal conduct on the Internet has grown as the use of the Internet has grown. As we know, Canadians are in the lead in its use in many instances, therefore it is important that this and related issues receive the proper attention of parliament and the government in general.

That being said, I would like to restate the government's commitment to ensuring that our laws keep pace with technology. We would like to continue to foster the relationships the government has created with law enforcement and industry to ensure that the laws and the tools used to combat cybercrime fulfil the needs of law enforcement without hampering our industries' competitive advantage.

Canada continues to be a world leader in the area of battling cybercrime, crime that in many instances does not respect borders. We have forged many international partnerships and will continue our involvement, for example, in the G-8 and the Council of Europe as well as the United Nations, to name just a few, in order to combat and deal with these kinds of issues.

The member's motion, although well intentioned, is nonetheless redundant. He has characterized it as a provision that will fill a void in Canadian criminal law. I would suggest that in fact that is not the case. It will not do that because sections 342.1 and 431.1 of the criminal code were designed with the dissemination of malicious computer viruses in mind. They were also worded in a manner that could be applicable to some future, still unknown, form of mischief.

It is a good thing that one of Canada's great legal traditions is to draft legislation in a general manner so that it fits not a particular thing but a number of things. In other words, in Canada fraud is fraud, whether committed by a person or committed by a computer. We do not need, then, a separate offence to cover computer fraud.

In that same line of reasoning, a section that was created to deal with any form of mischief to data, for example, including computer virus dissemination, should not be overridden simply because it does not include those words explicitly. Again, Canada's legal tradition kicks in here in a very fair minded and actually a forward thinking way.

During the first hour of debate the hon. member for Fundy—Royal said it best when he stated that the current criminal code is adequate to deal with computer hackers. He also pointed out that these serious offences carry a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment. That is already in place. Where the mischief in question endangers life, the penalty can be life imprisonment.

It is clear from at least the government's point of view, then, that the criminal code already deals with these types of crimes in a very serious manner. These provisions have been on the books for over 15 years and in 1997 were fine tuned and adjusted. Amendments were made at the time to reflect the realities of the day. This is demonstrative of the government's ongoing commitment to update the laws as needed. We continue to do so. I think that is the strength of the government: to ensure that we are ahead of the game in these kinds of things.

Although the Minister of Justice agrees with the motion in principle, she cannot support it because it affects conduct that already has been contemplated by the criminal code. I know that her parliamentary secretary agrees with that position.

Justice officials have been working to establish and foster partnerships with private industry, law enforcement and other governments. It is our understanding from these sources that the criminal code adequately deals with the conduct described in the motion before us. Law enforcement has and will continue to use these provisions successfully.

We are all aware of the recent mafia boy case to which the member for Hochelaga—Maisonneuve referred, where the accused was charged with 64 counts of hacking and mischief. Internationally, Canada is recognized as a world leader. In a recent independent international study on the readiness of national law to deal with cybercrime, McConnell International found that Canada's cybercrime laws are among the world's strongest. That is worth celebrating. It is worth it for all of us as parliamentarians to think about it. Internationally we are well renowned. We are known throughout the world in terms of having some of the strongest laws on the books.

Although Canada is a world leader in this regard, the government is committed to ensuring that our laws speak to our ever changing technological environment but that at the same time we have due regard for fundamental human rights. Canada continues its role as a world leader and as an active participant in many international forums on the issue of cybercrime. These include, and I will note them for the record, the G-8, the Council of Europe, the United Nations, the Commonwealth Secretariat, OECD and the Organization of American States.

As observers to the Council of Europe, Canadian delegates have been integral in negotiating a draft convention on cybercrime that which will be adopted later this year and will stand as a benchmark for international instruments in this area. Again it is something of which Canadians, wherever they live, can be justifiably proud. At the G-8, Canada continues its leadership role on cybercrime issues and is looking forward to its presidency in the year 2002. That underscores the leadership role that the country takes on matters of such grave and important substance.

Because cybercrime challenges our notions of sovereignty, our participation in these international forums will require that we constantly review our legislation, not only to make sure that it keeps pace with technology but also that it keeps pace with the laws of our international partners. We need to work together on this and Canada will take its lead, as it always has, in this very important area.

In summary, the Minister of Justice is satisfied that the criminal code already covers the malicious dissemination of computer viruses and that no further action is required in this area and with respect to the motion. I would ask all members to consider that and vote accordingly.

Computer HackersPrivate Members' Business

5:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Larry Spencer Canadian Alliance Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, I was deep in thought about what the member across the way said, however, I am thankful to the member for Saskatoon—Humboldt for introducing this private member's motion. I believe every member should support the motion.

I do not believe that the criminal code is sufficient as it is. It is perhaps outdated regarding Internet crime and I believe it is yet another symptom of how we are failing to keep up with the times in having a judicial system that protects Canadians.

Ever since the Internet entered the public domain there has been an enormous resistance to any regulation or interference by the government in the Internet. The Internet is believed by some to be the last bastion of pure freedom. Some people believed it could not be regulated and some people want freedom without limits, without consideration for others and without any accountability. However, freedom does come with responsibility, with limits, with consideration and with accountability.

Internet crime has proven to be harmful to personal property and will even destroy it. My own son's computer contained the files for my personal website during the election campaign. The night that he was to go home and finish that campaign site he found that a hacker had entered his computer and had actually destroyed the computer itself. He actually had to replace the hard drive because of the action of that hacker. We know it can happen. We know that Internet crime can also interrupt business. We believe it is time to shut down crime.

The Internet came on in the early nineties. It was the gateway to a new era. It developed so quickly that it seems to have left a lot of things in its wake. It moved so quickly that technology was perhaps slow in keeping up with the hackers, in keeping them out. Also, though, I believe that we were slow in heading them off.

Moving just as quickly, of course, were those we call hackers, who were attempting to destroy opportunities. The word virus took on a new meaning. Those who would destroy the opportunities and those who would create destructive viruses are the criminals that the member of parliament from Saskatoon—Humboldt and others want to shut down through this type of motion.

Existing crime legislation was never designed to deal with the types of Internet crime we are witnessing. Some of this crime was never even imagined in those days and it continues to develop in things that are happening on the Internet.

I believe amendments to the criminal code are required that will allow it to specifically deal with Internet crime. Amending the criminal code would provide law enforcement agencies and the courts with the tools they need.

Many have benefited personally from crimes on the Internet. It reminds me of the old protection racket in the old west, for instance, or in the Al Capone days. It seems that one of the ways to get a good computer job is to learn how to be a good hacker, to hack into some company's files and then offer oneself for hire. I do not believe that should even be allowed.

I support those who want to keep the government from unduly regulating the Internet and I support measures that will secure the existing network for us and for future users.

However, I believe there are things that we have not even mentioned and that this bill certainly does not address. I believe, for instance, that we also ought to look at sites that would entrap children in pornographic sites. I know this bill does not address that. That is just an example of how things progress on the Internet. We should broaden our look at what might be considered an Internet crime.

I have information here which indicates that by May 10 of this year the number of viruses tracked by MessageLabs SkyScan virus scanning service passed 185,000. That exceeds the mark reached in the whole year of 2000. We are seeing this kind of steady increase. Another consultant with another firm said “Around a year ago we would probably expect to see 1,000 new viruses each month. Nowadays we aren't surprised to see 1,200”.

There have been two major viruses this year, and we all know about the one last year, the love bug virus. These viruses are developing very rapidly.

I believe that the laws need to be tough enough to punish those who would willfully spread computer viruses and those who write them. We must take the cool out of writing viruses and we must not allow people to profit from it.

I understand that people who distribute viruses get the code from a virus exchange website where authors post viral source codes. This in itself should be illegal. To allow the tools for writing viruses to be on the Internet seems to me to be quite comical, but it is happening. If our laws are so sufficient, why is it continuing to happen? Why are those sites there?

It has been stated that no one is ever shown anything useful about a computer virus. It is bad and it only does harm and the law should treat it accordingly. Peter Tippet, a chief technology officer for TruSecure Corporation, wrote a recent article in which he says that making a bomb is illegal while writing about a bomb is not illegal and with a computer virus the words are the bomb.

Virus writers are glory seekers. They believe they are free in the wild, wild west of the computer Internet world to do whatever they want to do. It is time that we introduced some effective crime legislation to deal with hackers. I am pleased to support the bill which calls for some important steps to be taken toward the real control of Internet crime.

Computer HackersPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Val Meredith Canadian Alliance South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise to speak to the private member's motion that has been put on the agenda by my colleague from Saskatoon—Humboldt. The motion states:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should immediately amend the Criminal Code to create a separate category of offences and punishments for computer hackers and persons who wilfully or maliciously export computer viruses, both of whose activities disrupt the normal conduct of electronic business in Canada.

There is not one of us in this place who is not aware of the importance of the Internet and of the new technologies available to us to allow us to do our job. There is no one in the House who does not understand the potential of the invasion of a person's privacy through the new technology that we use.

The industry committee took many hours in looking at the new e-commerce, the privacy issues and how we protect information when using this new technology. Companies in society have created an international environment through the use of the Internet and the use of new technologies.

My colleague who spoke earlier gave a couple of examples of new technologies as his phone rang and his BlackBerry warning went off. These new technologies have become part of how we conduct ourselves, how we do business, how we communicate with each other and how we share information immediately. I could write an e-mail message and send it to someone in Vienna, Austria, who would receive it immediately. It is a technology that has advanced our business community. It has allowed that community to be competitive in the international scheme of things.

When we talk about offences, about people who break into someone's system or about someone who deliberately plants a virus that will disrupt a communication tool, we need to have some vehicle or means of dealing with it.

I do not think we are talking about high school kids who play around and mischievously plant things in computer systems, but we are talking about people who, for either their own personal gain or for a reason more serious than that, deliberately interfere with the ability of a company to communicate either within its own company or with others around the world.

I know and have known for a number of years that there has been a concern within companies about people trying to hack into their computer systems for malicious reasons, either because they are disgruntled employees or because they want to remove or destroy information within the system that might affect them or might benefit them economically.

We have a whole new range of criminal activity. I call it criminal activity because people are deliberately, maliciously and intentionally destroying the abilities of companies, corporations and banks to use the new technology in the manner it was designed to be used.

We have to deal with these individuals who are committing crimes. People have used the analogy of someone who breaks into a home and rifles through papers, goes through closets and dressers and gets access to things that he or she has no business having access to.

When we talk about hacking into a bank, we are talking about the ability to transfer money, to actually steal assets or to remove information that clearly defines who those assets belong to.

There are other circumstances as well. Someone who hacks into a defence equipment file or a police file has access to very sensitive information. In the police scenario, someone could destroy the credibility of evidence to be presented in court. In the defence scenario, someone might get information that is a risk to the security of the country.

How do we deal with this? Today there is no specific way of dealing with an individual who is hacking into computer equipment and programs. To those doing business, the cost of trying to protect computer networks from outside hackers is incredible. They are constantly trying to be ahead of technology. Businesses are constantly trying to figure out how to prevent people from hacking into their systems. It must be very frustrating for businesses to have to put these costs into their system and their budgetary programming knowing that if an individual is caught hacking into their computer systems, it is questionable whether or not that individual would face a criminal charge or have any kind of meaningful sanction.

Then we get into the issue of viruses and their potential to create the same kind of damage. There it is not stealing information, accessing or transferring assets or anything of that nature, but if this is done deliberately to create confusion or to cause disruption to a company doing business, it should be considered a very serious criminal action. That also is not happening because there is nothing in legislation that specifically sets up the issue for people who create viruses. I do not think there is a member in the Chamber who does not know about the effect a virus can have and about the insecurity one has in dealing with computers knowing all these viruses exist.

I recently bought a new software program that is able to hunt out viruses when I turn on the computer. It deals with viruses and removes them from the system. Supposedly the software program can kill a virus brought in from the outside before it attacks any information in the system. However, I found out that I am not protected from any new virus that comes in after the software program came on the market. How many software virus programs does a person have to buy? Does a person have to buy one every day because every day someone is creating a new virus?

We have to consider this concern, as I am sure people are, with our reliance on new technology such as e-mail, the Internet and even storing information on computer networks. Certainly here in the House of Commons we have that concern.

If someone were so creative as to come up with a virus that would shut down all the systems at the same time, I am not sure how society or commerce or banking would survive, because we have become very reliant on computer technology. What about buying licence plates for my car or buying groceries or doing my banking? Most people use debit cards in grocery stores, restaurants or Canadian Tire. Debit cards are tied into a computer network. I really wonder whether as a society we could manage to keep operating. Because of our reliance on the new technology and on the security of the new technology, it is extremely important that we recognize computer hacking as a criminal offence and put sanctions on it.

The hon. member for Saskatoon—Humboldt deserves a lot of credit for taking seriously what he heard as concerns of the industry committee, the business community and also the medical community. He is to be commended for hearing their concerns and for identifying a situation that our criminal code does not deal with sufficiently.

We should view the motion my hon. colleague has presented to the House as a positive thing, as something that can at least begin to address and support the study done by the industry committee. We need to be very concerned about the privacy, security and protection of the new technology, of the information highway, of information systems and of all the different areas of the new technology that can be interfered with and interrupted and undermined by a criminal mind.

Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to support my colleague. I appreciate his diligence in putting the bill before the House. I hope that all parties would see the need to support the legislation and ensure that it at least advances beyond a private member's motion.

Computer HackersPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.


Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, as the last speaker of the day, I can sum up basically the whole debate by saying that virtually everyone agrees computers are very important in our society and computer hacking is a terrible problem. It is the remedy that we need to discuss: whether section 430 of the criminal code is enough or whether the government should make additional amendments. That is how people will vote.

I want to make two points. One is for my constituents and it is that to have these problems we need to be connected. I am very glad the Government of Canada in its recent throne speech put a lot of effort into connecting Canadians. I have been urging and trying to get the towns of Faro and Ross River connected. I hope every house in the small Yukon communities of Beaver Creek, Pelly Crossing, Carcross, Old Crow, Destruction Bay, Burwash Landing, Elsa and Keena will be connected one day.

Finally, on the day the motion was introduced, the person who introduced it also introduced something that was not very unifying. I would like to induce him to perhaps take some private reflection or remember that softwares are languages on computers. There are quite a few and they all bring strength to a computer. If people understand a lot of languages on a computer then they have more strength.

With respect to the other initiative he brought forward, we want Canadians to be in the position of strength understanding that those many languages strengthen Canada. I hope he will reflect on that.

Computer HackersPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

Computer HackersAdjournment Proceedings

6:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Keith Martin Canadian Alliance Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, on April 27 I asked the Minister of Health a question concerning hepatitis C and why individuals who were infected outside the 1986-1990 border, who contracted hepatitis C through no fault of their own through tainted blood, had not been compensated. The response I received was that the minister was frustrated.

I bring this up again because people who contracted hepatitis C through tainted blood do not need frustration. What they need is leadership. That is what will help them.

Between 1978 and 1986, 14,000 Canadians contracted hepatitis C through no fault of their own. We have to find out who these individuals are. Many of them are unknown to the medical community because the time course for acquiring symptoms can be more than 10 years. It can even be as much as 40 years before any symptoms accrue. Some provinces are trying to find out who these people are, and the federal government ought to help them in that way.

The number of victims who contracted hepatitis C was overestimated. There is $1.1 billion available to compensate victims. Because of the overestimation, there should be a surplus of money which should go to those individuals who have not as yet been compensated.

I do not know why the government has not done that. These people are suffering at home. They do not have the treatment or the medication they require. They have simply slipped through the cracks to live their lives in quiet desperation through no fault of their own.

We all have this problem in our ridings. I am simply asking the Minister of Health to do the right thing. I am asking the Minister of Health, while the money is there, to please compensate those victims who are outside the window of compensation.

This is an issue of fairness, and the money is there. Rather than the money being chewed up by lawyers' fees, because these people are bringing cases to the court, why not make sure it goes to the patients for the care and medication they require.

I also would like to draw to the attention of the members that the number of people who are contracting hepatitis C is increasing because of the explosion of intravenous drug use. We also know that people who snort cocaine through the use of shared straws can contract the hepatitis C virus if they have open sores. This is important for the public to recognize.

In closing, on behalf of the 14,000 plus individuals who contracted hepatitis C through tainted blood that was not checked by tests that were available at the time and as a matter of fairness and compassion to those individuals, I plead with the government to compensate those individuals so they will have the treatment and medial care they require. It is a simple request. It is simple to do, and I hope the government does it as soon as possible.

Computer HackersAdjournment Proceedings

May 31st, 2001 / 6:20 p.m.

Waterloo—Wellington Ontario


Lynn Myers LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, in March 1998 the federal, provincial and territorial governments agreed to offer compensation to Canadians who were tragically infected with hepatitis C through the Canadian blood system between January 1, 1986 and July 1, 1990.

Governments and lawyers for the class action plaintiffs reached a proposed settlement agreement and filed it with the three class action courts in June 1999. The settlement was approved by the courts in December 1999. It was recognized that the settlement was fair and equitable.

Since the court appointment in March 2000 of Crawford Expertises Canada Inc. and The Garden City Group as the arm's length administrator, Crawford has developed claims protocols and has had these protocols approved by the courts. Crawford has received and reviewed more than 5,000 claims and, since June 25, 2000, more than 2,000 individuals have received compensation.

The joint committee, a group of lawyers appointed by the courts to supervise the administration of the settlement agreement, has assured the Minister of Health recently that they are taking every available step to review claims efficiently and promptly.

The government's plans to assist people living with hepatitis C are not limited to the settlement compensation. Following the compensation announcement in March 1999, the Government of Canada received representation from individuals infected outside the window period. The Minister of Health listened to their concerns and as a result, in September 1998 a $525 million strategy was announced to assist all individuals infected with hepatitis C.

As part of this proposal, the government is transferring to the provinces and territories up to $300 million to ensure that all those who contracted hepatitis C through the blood system, no matter when, will have reasonable and ongoing access to the medical goods and services needed for appropriate treatment. The government has demonstrated care and compassion toward all victims. This stands as proof in that respect.

Health Canada was proud to be the sponsor of a national conference for hepatitis C which took place May 1 to May 4 in Montreal this past little while. This conference brought together all stakeholders to share their experience and knowledge of recent medical developments and strategies for disease prevention and control along with health promotion in community support.

It is my contention, and I believe people will agree, that the government is doing everything it can for the victims of hepatitis C.

Computer HackersAdjournment Proceedings

6:20 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24.

(The House adjourned at 6.23 p.m.)