Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-28, the electronic commerce protection act. The purpose of the bill is to deal with the issue of spam. The act would prohibit the sending of commercial electronic messages, spam, without prior consent of the recipients.
Spam represents about 60% to 80% of Internet traffic worldwide. It is a serious problem for Canadians and Canadian businesses. In recognition of the seriousness, the Liberal government in 2004-05 established an anti-spam task force that came up with the following recommendations.
The Liberal recommendation called for the government to introduce legislation that would do the following: prohibit the sending of spam without the prior consent of recipients; prohibit the use of false or misleading statements that disguise the origins or the true intent of the email; prohibit the installation of unauthorized programs; and prohibit the unauthorized collection of personal information or email addresses.
I am pleased to see that the Conservative government, through Bill C-28, is enacting all of those recommendations.
Twenty years ago a computer was not essential in carrying out our daily duties. However, now it is important to everyone, be it businesses, individuals, corporations, non-profit groups, hospitals, students or seniors. Our parents and grandparents use it. It is a mode of operation. It facilitates and eases transactions. People like to do their banking and bill paying on the Internet.
However, the ease of using computers and sharing information creates another problem of its own: the unwanted advertising, misinformation and potential threats. We all know too well the consequences of spam because it brings with it viruses and worms. In 2003, Canadian consumers and businesses spent approximately $27 billion to develop a phishing program that would detect fraud and shield businesses from attacks. This is a critical issue and the problem has grown worse since 2003. I am sure we have all had first-hand experience with spam.
I was looking at my own email and noticed that someone had sent me an SOS notice. I wondered who the notice was from. It saw that it was from a constituent of mine. I could not imagine that a constituent's email had been compromised. There was a note asking for help as the constituent was stuck in some foreign land. I had to wonder how a person was able to access a personal email and then send me an SOS note.
The good thing is, if we know our constituents, we can verify who they are. However, for unsuspecting people, if somebody were to send an SOS notice and ask for funds, they might think they know the person and send it. They may not know that person's email has been compromised.
This is a huge problem for all of us. It is important that as a collective we address the issue. Sometimes we think we have secure accounts but we often get unsolicited and junk mail. As I mentioned, I am sure no one can attest to the fact that they have never received junk or spam mail. The junk mail on its own may not be risky if one knows what to do with it and assign it to a junk folder, but there are people who do not know what to do with it and respond to it.
A classic example is when we are told that our Internet has been compromised and that we need download a program. We download the program and our computer is frozen because of a virus. The people who sent the program now want payment for a service that was not needed in the first place. There are a lot of problems going on.
The worms and viruses that can enter a system are problematic for Canadian businesses, Canadians, banks and just about everyone. We just heard that people tend to receive emails that appear to be from their banking institution, financial institution or insurance company asking them to verify information. If people are naive enough to respond to the email, they are now giving information to the person who is trying to hack their system, which can cause people a lot of problems.
Therefore, to address this issue in 2005, the Liberals released a report entitled, ”Stopping Spam: Creating a Stronger, Safer Internet”. As was mentioned earlier, the task force made many recommendations. Among those were the prohibition of sending unsolicited email or the use of misleading statements, funny titles, products, et cetera These are important changes and I do not think anyone in the House would object to what Bill C-28 proposes.
I am sure that, like me, many members of the House have received numerous complaints from their constituents on the issue of spam. The issue has compounded because of things that are now delegated to outside of Canada. When people are contracting their telephone services or banking services outside of Canada there is no control over it.
The government's ability to control or combat spam is not just about introducing legislation but also about working with world governments and organizations to develop an international strategy for reducing this ongoing burden of spam.
Internet policing is difficult as the traffic is humongous. We know that 60% to 80% of the Internet traffic is spam. This sheer volume of messages challenges the capacity of Internet providing services or legitimate business to do their business. They have to put in all sorts of firewalls, et cetera.
If the government is serious about introducing legislation and the Industry Canada's committee will be reviewing this legislation, it is important that we move quickly to enforce the legislation. Industry Canada cannot do it on its own without having the necessary resources. I would like know what resources the government will give Industry Canada to ensure an effective corrective solution.
It is extremely important for people everywhere in Canada to have confidence that the legislation provided by the government will be effective and that the sanctions are there. I believe that any legislation brought forward must ensure that we have proper resources and effective coordination.
The more rapid a response to correct this problem would ensure that those who see an opportunity for Canada as a target will find another place. However, we do not want them to find another place because that other place is where we do our business as well, in banking, financial services and whatever we do. It is a global place and we do our business globally.
I hope we will work with the international community to ensure we have a reduction in spam. I hope all members will support the bill, that it will be sent to committee for further review and that it will provide fast relief for Canadians.