Mr. Speaker, in order to better understand the debate, it is worthwhile rereading Motion No. 80, introduced by a member of the opposition, and I quote:
That, in the opinion of this House, the government should immediately amend the Criminal Code to create a separate category of offences and punishments for computer hackers and persons who wilfully or maliciously export computer viruses, both of whose activities disrupt the normal conduct of electronic business in Canada.
The first question that arises with such a motion is: why should this motion be supported? It is clear from a look at the use made of computers and this new technology that cyber crime and Internet crimes are on the rise. More people use them, more are tempted to leave their mark, on certain Internet sites and programs, for example.
In this regard, the young, people with a thorough knowledge of computers, the computer whizzes, who have had training and developed their expertise by using them, are clearly the ones likely to be most affected by this motion.
The question is whether or not this motion is justified and, if so, whether this issue is a source of concern, whether it deserves our attention, whether there is a flaw in the criminal code, whether Canada's current legislation meets our concerns and whether it is adequate, considering the use that can be made of the Internet?
I believe that this is indeed an issue that deserves our attention. It is an issue about which we must be vigilant, considering that this can develop very rapidly and, as I said earlier, it is often young people who have to deal with the problem, since they are major users of the Internet and all these programs.
This issue is indeed a source of concern and it deserves our attention. But do we need legislative amendments, as proposed by the hon. member in Motion No. 80?
Let us take a look at the criminal code. Current events allow us to see whether the criminal code is properly used and applied. They provide some answers to our questions. Does the criminal code include offences for people who, as the motion says, wilfully or maliciously export computer viruses which, as everyone knows, can disrupt electronic business in Canada?
The answer is yes. As the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice said earlier—and I do not always share his views, but I agree with him on this specific issue—the criminal code already includes offences carrying heavy penalties for people who might be tempted to wilfully export computer viruses, considering the seriousness of the problems caused to computer programs and the Internet system.
In order to have a balanced criminal code to deal with reprehensible actions, there must be a gradation when it comes to offences. We cannot deal with someone who attempts to introduce a computer virus in the same way that we would deal with a person who commits an act of violence, who assaults someone or commits a similar type of offence. There has to be a progression in the offences and in the sentences.
For certain cases now under study, I think that the criminal code has the necessary provisions, with respect both to offences and to sentences.
We can tell from the news whether or not the criminal code is sufficiently clear, whether it is easy to apply and whether it covers this kind of offence. The example I want to use is that of “mafia boy”, who managed to introduce computer viruses into Internet sites and throw the entire web-based economy into disarray. The legislation appears to be applicable because, first of all, this individual was traced. Second, the individual, who was in fact a youth, was charged, found guilty and sentenced.
The legislation is therefore effective. Because this is a field which is evolving very rapidly, however, we must be vigilant and look at whether the legislation will be increasingly applied and whether it will meet needs. But this goes hand in hand with the use that is made of it.
In fact, there is a series of amendments which have been in effect only since 1997-1998. The system must at least be given the time to apply them before we should contemplate changing the rules of the game.
This is rather typical of the Canadian Alliance, which does not wait for the results, particularly where young people are involved. It does not wait to see whether or not the legislation is inadequate, whether or not it should be amended immediately. In its view, what is needed is to crack down as quickly as possible, to hand out tougher and tougher sentences, because young people are involved.
I urge Canadian Alliance members and the government as well to take a good look at what is going on in the field of informatics. There is no reason right now to jump in and start amending the existing legislation.
Today, I feel safe when it comes to informatics because the criminal code has provisions to cover this. Should young people or adults try to introduce viruses into computer programs, we have the legislation necessary to arrest them, bring them before the courts, and deal with them. We have what is needed.
Members will therefore understand that the Bloc Quebecois is voting against Motion No. 80.