Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be speaking about Bill C-28, Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam Act. The word “wireless” is important, as we will see later on, given that there are important developments in that area, particularly with 3G, which is becoming more significant.
The Bloc Québécois is in favour of the principle of Bill C-28, which was previously Bill C-27 but died on the Order Paper at prorogation. It is important to note that the government is dragging its heels on this file and is taking as long as possible to deal with this problem. However, this new legislation, with a few small amendments, specifically targets unsolicited commercial electronic messages. This bill has been needed and requested by society as a whole for a long time now. Governments, Internet service providers—which I will refer to later as ISPs—network operators and consumers are all affected by the problem of spam.
In this type of bill, it is important to define the terms. What is meant by the term “spam”? Spam can be defined as a commercial electronic message sent without the express consent of the recipient. It can be any text, audio, voice or visual message sent by any means of telecommunication, including email, cellular phone text messaging or instant messaging, whose content is such that it is reasonable to conclude that the purpose of the message is to encourage participation in commercial activity. Any electronic message that offers to purchase, sell, barter or lease a product, goods, services, land or an interest or right in land, or a business, investment or gaming opportunity is considered spam for our purposes.
Note that the following types of commercial messages are not considered as spam: messages sent by an individual to another individual with whom they have a personal or family relationship; messages sent to a person who is engaged in a commercial activity and consist solely of an inquiry or application related to that activity; messages that are, in whole or in part, an interactive two-way voice communication between individuals; and messages that are sent by means of a facsimile to a telephone account. This bill does not include them, but we know that faxes can also be a form of spam. Messages that are voice recordings sent to a telephone account are not spam. Earlier, I mentioned 3G technology, which goes through cell phone towers and is becoming increasingly significant.
We must create safeguards for legitimate electronic commerce. It is now essential to our economy. Not only are commercial emails sent with the prior and ongoing consent of the recipient important to electronic commerce, but they are also essential to the development of the online economy. It is quite clear that our commerce is heading in that direction.
The Bloc Québécois is pleased to see that Bill C-28 takes into account most of the recommendations in the final report of the task force on spam.
I would remind this House that the task force on spam was made up of people from government, industry and consumer advocacy groups. So it was a very broad task force whose members reached a consensus after a few months of work. They tabled their report in 2005. This bill has been on the table for a long time. In 2005, the multipartite task force tabled the bill that the government more or less adopted as its own. It was the task force that essentially came up with this bill.
We are very upset that the legislative process has taken so long. The legislation was tabled in 2005, and it is now 2010. Parliament may have been prorogued, but we are not sure the government really intends to deal with this bill quickly. It is quite likely that the bill will be delayed further, because it is hard to know whose interests will be served, so the government does not want to rush this bill through.
The committee study will be an opportunity for many industry stakeholders to come back and update it and for consumer advocacy groups to have their say about the new Electronic Commerce Protection Act. It is a question of updating it—