Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in this debate at third reading on Bill C-22, An Act respecting the mandatory reporting of Internet child pornography by persons who provide an Internet service.
This is an important piece of legislation that states that persons who provide an Internet service must report any online child pornography they are aware of.
I think that on both sides of the House, we all agree that our main duty as elected representatives is to protect the most precious and vulnerable members of our society, our children.
Obliging Internet service providers to report child pornography will enhance our ability to protect Canadian children against online sexual exploitation in many ways.
First, this measure will improve our ability to detect child pornography, which is becoming increasingly prevalent. Second, the bill will allow for communication that will help block access to child pornography sites through the Cleanfeed Canada program. Third, the measures provided for in the bill will make it easier to identify, arrest and prosecute individuals who commit child pornography offences. Most importantly, these measures will help identify the victims so that we can save them from sexual predators.
Last summer, the federal ombudsman for victims of crime published a special report entitled Every Image, Every Child, which provided an overview of the problem of the online sexual exploitation of children.
According to the special report, the number of charges for the production or distribution of child pornography increased by 900% between 1998 and 2003. Furthermore, the number of images of serious child abuse has quadrupled between 2003 and 2007. This report also said that 39% of people who access child pornography look at images of children between the ages of 3 and 5, and 19% look at images of infants under 3 years old.
According to this report, commercial child pornography is estimated to be a multi-billion dollar industry worldwide. Thousands of new images or videos are put on the Internet every week, and hundreds of thousands of searches for child sexual abuse images are performed daily.
It is estimated that there are more than 750,000 pedophiles online at any given time and some of them may have collections of over a million child sexual abuse images.
I have a few comments about two amendments made to the bill by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, of which I am a member. The definition of Internet services was slightly changed to specify that the bill applies to Internet service providers, in other words, people who provide services related to Internet access, content hosting and email.
The amendment applies only to the English version of the bill in order for the legislative text to accurately reflect the desired outcome and for the English version and the definition to better correspond to the French version.
The other amendment to Bill C-22 has to do with the provision on the possible double reporting in terms of the bill and the laws of a province or a foreign jurisdiction.
Essentially, Bill C-22 sets out two requirements for people who provide Internet services to the public. As far as the first requirement is concerned, persons who provide an Internet service to the public and who have been advised of an Internet address where child pornography may be available to the public are required to report to a designated agency such Internet addresses, otherwise known as IP or URL addresses.
In terms of the second requirement on notice and preservation, if a provider has reason to believe that its Internet services have been used in the commission of a child pornography offence, the provider is required to notify the police and preserve the evidence for 21 days.
Bill C-22 seeks to prevent double reporting to a designated agency when a service provider has already reported the incident, in compliance with an obligation under the laws of a province or a foreign jurisdiction. Nonetheless, the previous wording could have been interpreted to mean that the provider is relieved of notification and preservation duties. That was never the idea. The amendment specifies that Internet service providers who report an incident in compliance with the laws of a province or a foreign jurisdiction are released only of their reporting requirements.
The committee heard from representatives of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, which operates cybertip.ca, Canada's national 24/7 tip line for reporting the sexual exploitation of children on the Internet. At present, most reporting of child pornography across Canada is done through cybertip.ca or, in French, cyberaide.ca.
Within 48 hours, cybertip.ca agents review, analyze, and prioritize every report they receive. The agents verify the reports by collecting supporting information using various Internet tools and techniques. They also identify the location of the material in order to determine the appropriate jurisdiction. If the material is assessed to be potentially illegal, a report is referred to the appropriate law enforcement agency for follow-up and investigation.
Cybertip.ca fulfills a valuable function for police across Canada by analyzing reports and forwarding only the most relevant information to law enforcement agencies. The material that is deemed not to be illegal is often followed up with educational information. Thus, the police do not have to use their resources to analyze reports of child pornography and can focus on investigations. Cybertip.ca has memoranda of understanding with most Canadian law enforcement agencies and collaborates closely with many of the Canadian ISPs and international partners, of course. Cybertip.ca—