Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-13, the protecting Canadians from online crime act, now that it has been reported back to the House by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.
Without the provisions contained in Bill C-13, there would be no tool in the Criminal Code to enable the preservation of computer data and ensure important evidence would not deleted prematurely. In addition, without these provisions, there would be no tool designed for the production of specific types of data such as transmission data. Nor would there be a tool to assist in tracking a communication by using one order that could be served on multiple providers when it was revealed that the person under investigation was hopping from one hiding place to the next, from one server provider to the next, simply to cover his or her tracks. Bill C-13 would bring the kind of balance Canadians expect from a 21st century system of justice.
I want to address some basic principles so everyone understands what is at stake.
The new preservation tools are crucial. With regard to the storage of data, Canada's telecommunications industry is, in many ways, unregulated. We do not have laws for mandatory data retention, contrary to what exists in the European Union, and many Canadians believe we should not have such laws. Bill C-13 does not change that.
There are a number of providers with a variety of business practices. This is not a criticism of those practices. There are many reasons why data should be deleted. Some of those reasons have to do with privacy, but not all of them. Sometimes it is cheaper. Sometimes it is just the way technology is designed. However, sometimes these circumstances are consciously exploited by criminals trying to hide their trail and get away with their crimes.
The creation of the preservation tools reflects the diversity of legitimate business practices and acknowledges the fact that the industry is not required to retain data. However, we must understand the consequences of our choices. This also means that vital data could be deleted before production orders could be obtained from a judge enabling that data to be disclosed.
Preservation demands and preservation orders act as the first step in a lawful investigation. These tools ensure the data at least exists long enough for a judge to assess the evidence brought before him or her and determine if it should be disclosed to the police so it could assist in an investigation and eventually be brought forward in open court.
Let us consider the next step: the production of evidence. The new production orders provide the necessary set of investigational powers that enable a judge to grant specific types of data as specified in the order, which could be obtained by the police. This is another aspect that has not been understood in the media or by some witnesses who appeared before the committee. The new tools are not about disclosing data in general. It may be easy to grasp that these provisions would give law enforcement the specific tools it needs in the modern world of computers and complex telecommunications. However, there is another side to it.
The provisions in Bill C-13 ensure that a judge is aware of precisely what type of data is being sought by the police in relation to a specific investigation. This is quite unique. Most countries around the world do not provide their judges with this ability to carefully consider the circumstances and to uphold the rights and freedoms of the people and their jurisdiction by granting the authorities access to only one sort of data and not another. If the police do not need access to every kind of data, why should that be permissible?
These new tools make clear that police forces can obtain what is needed, but not more. If they can convince the judge that they need access to a particular type of data in order to assist in the investigation, then the judge can empower them to obtain that data from a service provider, but only that type of data, not every type of data that the service provider might have. This type of precision, this new approach, increases accountability, transparency and privacy protection. It is a new model for our new high tech reality. It is the right balance of freedom and protection for Canadians.
These are not simple issues and they do not deserve to be dismissed by misguided motions to delete vital provisions from Bill C-13. We must begin to understand that in a complex telecommunications network, where the Internet enables mobile phones, laptops and tablets to send data through the air in the blink of an eye, there are different types of data going through the network, data which can have diverse characteristics. We need different tools for those different types of data. The warrant for a tracking device and the warrant for a transmission data recorder are examples of those kinds of tools. They are crucial tools to combatting cyberbullying and online crime in general.
The current dial number recorder provisions in the Criminal Code were put in place when most Canadians did not have a cellphone and were not surfing the web. This is not the kind of technology that police face today when conducting criminal investigations.
The new transmission data recorder provisions can be used for collecting data from both telephones and the Internet. We all know that in today's world, a cellphone can be used to place a call, surf the web, or send a text message or a digital photograph. The transmission data recorder reflects this reality. It is not restricted to one type of data from one type of device. Again, a much more cautious approach has been taken than headlines would have one believe.
We must look carefully at the details. The new provision is important because it establishes appropriate safeguards. The transmission data recorder may be a mouthful to say and it may be difficult to understand some of the technological wording, but basically it is about the data that devices send to each other to connect into the network.
There are many different bits of data that could fall under the definition of transmission data, making a long, complicated list looking daunting. However, there are three things to remember.
First, police officers have to get approval from a judge. They must present evidence to a judge in order to use a transmission data recorder.
Second, the transmission data recorder is basically about mapping networks. It is about identifying devices and messages. It is not focused on identifying an individual person. That means it is not centred on the sort of attribution that was the focus of the Supreme Court of Canada's recent decision in Spencer in June 2014.
Third, and this is absolutely important, the police cannot use this provision to intercept what people say or text to each other or the digital photos that they send. The provision is crystal clear about this. It specifically states that it cannot be used to collect content. That means the transmission data recorder cannot be used to intercept voice. It cannot be used to collect text messages. It cannot be used to read the content of emails. It cannot even be used to read the subject line of an email. It cannot be used to collect a digital photo. To do that sort of thing would be to conduct an interception. To conduct an interception, the police would need a full-blown wiretap authorization, and that is the way it should be.
The police need the right tools, but Canadians need their privacy protected. Bill C-13 would strike the balance.
The warrants for the tracking device and the transmission data recorder not only improve police capabilities, but also strengthen the privacy protections for Canadians generally by ensuring that judicial standards are respected for different types of data.
Let us use another example to make that clear. The amended tracking order provisions distinguish between tracking things and tracking people. Now the existing provisions in the Criminal Code do not make the distinction. Therefore, if the police were tracking a package, like a drug shipment, that is one thing. However, if the police are trying to track a person, using a device usually carried or worn by the person, the new provision demands that the police meet a higher threshold of proof. The police must bring more compelling evidence before a judge, before that judge would permit a tracking warrant to be used to follow a person's movements. That is the way it should be.
The new provisions enhance privacy protections above the old provisions in the Criminal Code. The old tool is not good enough in today's society. The new provisions strike the balance between law enforcement needs and privacy protections.
I call upon all members to give their full support to Bill C-13 to ensure its swift passage.