Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-28, which has a slightly misleading title because I do not know if we will really be able to eliminate spam. It is called the “fighting Internet and wireless spam act”. I hope we will be able to fight spam and eliminate it, but it will not be easy to completely block fraudsters and dishonest people. These people inundate our email with spam.
We listened to a number of speeches, including that of my illustrious colleague from Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, the Bloc Québécois industry critic, who has worked very hard on this file. His speech was very eloquent and provided a good explanation of the multi-faceted manner in which this scourge attacks businesses, offices, service providers and all those in business. I will repeat, it is a real scourge.
I remember very well that when I arrived here on Parliament Hill, not as a member of Parliament, but as an assistant, it was the first time that I had to work so much with computers. My previous job had me working with computers only occasionally. I was shocked by the number of spam messages and how much of our time they took up every day. I imagine that that is still the case for many businesses. Here in the House of Commons, and we must give credit to our tech team, we get far fewer spam messages. I will not go into detail, but we were getting some completely unacceptable emails. In some cases, pop-ups would take over our computers and sometimes cause them to freeze. The computers were frozen, not us. It was a serious problem.
The bill is creating a new electronic commerce protection act to set limits on the sending of spam. Spam can be defined as a commercial electronic message sent without the express consent of the recipient. It can be any commercial electronic message, any text, audio, voice or visual message sent by any means of telecommunication. Email was mentioned earlier, but there is also cellular phone text messaging—which is popular with young people—and instant messaging. Based on the content, it is reasonable to conclude that the purpose of the message is to encourage participation in commercial activity. That is the case, of course, with electronic messages that offer to purchase, sell, barter or lease a product, good, service, land or an interest or right in land, or offer a business, investment or gaming opportunity.
The Bloc Québécois is in favour of the principle of Bill C-28. As was mentioned earlier, it is new legislation that specifically targets unsolicited commercial electronic messages. We need this new legislation, and it has long been requested by society as a whole. The members who spoke before me said that it took a ridiculously long time for the government to wake up and put a real policy in place.
This bill is not yet in effect. It must be examined in committee. A task force has been studying the issue since 2004. We would have expected it to be quicker. These kinds of emails are costing us billions of dollars.
Nevertheless, 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. However, we are not pleased that the legislative process took four long years.
Consideration of the bill in committee should give many industry stakeholders and consumer protection groups an opportunity to express their views on the new electronic commerce protection legislation created by Bill C-28.
I would now like to go over how Bill C-28 came about. First of all, the task force on spam was struck in 2004 to look into this problem and find ways of dealing with it. It brought together Internet service providers, as well as electronic marketing experts and government and consumer representatives. Consumers are often the main victims of spam.
I am thinking of fraud spam primarily. For instance, a bank or credit union asks someone to provide all of his or her contact information because of a bogus problem. I will come back to that. I will no doubt have time at a later date.
I am pleased to say that the Bloc Québécois supports the principle of this bill.