Madam Speaker, it is a great pleasure to speak to Bill C-11 today.
This is an extremely important subject that concerns the security and protection of all citizens' personal information. As my colleague already clearly stated, over the past 10 years and during the current pandemic, there have been a multitude of phishing scams via telephone, the Internet and online shopping platforms, which are increasingly popular.
I believe that Bill C-11 is timely and will correct major problems that we have been seeing for some time in different areas. For example, there have been cases of bank fraud, notably at Desjardins, and the federal government has also been affected. I know that the bill does not apply to the federal government, but this issue remains a very serious concern.
Take, for example, a situation that has occurred in my riding of Terrebonne. For the past month or so, we have been seeing a whole host of complaints related to the Canada Revenue Agency, from people whose identities were stolen by fraudsters who claimed CERB cheques in their name. This shows that there is a gap at the government level, which is very interesting.
I understand that we need to look at what requirements should be established for banks and e-commerce, but I think that there may be some aspects of the bill that we could rework. We are only at debate at second reading for this bill, which means that the bill could be amended and improved to give it more teeth, make it more robust and ensure that it is more responsive to the various threats that could arise in the future. Since we are essentially talking about technology here, the new law should be able to adapt its mechanisms to the changes in technology that will occur in the coming years.
However, there are a number of troubling issues that the bill does not address. For instance, metadata is not included in the bill. I am not an IT expert, but metadata is something that we see regularly. For example, if we spend a few minutes on the Internet searching for a camp chair, it is not unusual to then see ads for various types of camping equipment.
That is worrisome because metadata can be used to target specific individuals. When a group of individuals is targeted, there is a risk of more targeted threats or cyber-attacks. That is why I think it would be a good idea to improve the bill by addressing the issue of metadata.
The federal government, and the Canada Revenue Agency in particular, has quite a lot of work to do on matters of identity theft. The CRA's mandate is to manage revenues on behalf of the Canadian government.
However, what happens in the case of computer fraud as a result of identity theft? In that case, it becomes more a matter of public safety and national security. In many cases, fraud and identity theft, particularly in the banking sector, are committed from abroad using fairly sophisticated electronic means.
Once again, I am not familiar with the mechanisms used to investigate these predominantly computer-based threats or to protect us from them.
I am also referring to the recent debate we had—and I do think this is related—on 5G networks in Canada, in terms of the technological means that will be deployed over the next few years to protect the IT infrastructure itself from all threats and foreign influences.
In some cases, the threat might involve political or public influence. In other cases, it could literally be individual hackers from around the world who use technology, including 5G networks, to circumvent security mechanisms and break into various systems to steal identities and the personal data of the various citizens that we are meant to protect.
It seems to me that the general intent behind Bill C-11 is a worthwhile one, crucial even, as I said in my opening remarks. However, we also need to tackle the technical side. I get the sense that some issues were not considered from all angles so as to ensure that the bill reinforces the back door as much as it does the front door.
Once again, protecting online identity is the most tenuous aspect, and we are trying to rectify that here. I am concerned about a number of aspects of the authentication mechanisms, because that is really what this is about. Currently, many banks, institutions and businesses use a variety of platforms to secure and protect the identity of online customers and consumers.
As a few minutes on the Internet will show, private online commerce companies use many different authentication platforms and mechanisms. It might be a good idea to consider using the bill to standardize those online transaction authentication mechanisms, but the government seems unwilling to do that in the current version of Bill C-11.
The government wants to have companies and financial institutions take on more of the control, responsibility and obligations of protecting personal information. The government should, however, set out some very specific measures in the bill to ensure that all companies can shoulder this responsibility. Not every company has the financial means to set up robust data protection mechanisms. I therefore think that the government needs to set some statutory requirements.
As my colleague from Abitibi—Témiscamingue pointed out earlier, a lot of small merchants and businesses do not have the financial means to improve or modernize their technology infrastructure. This issue may also need to be addressed in the comprehensive approach we are advocating today.
There is the whole issue of jurisdictions. Quebec's jurisdiction over civil law and consumer protection plays an extremely important role. We know that the laws are confined to the jurisdictions for which they were written. This is not just a Quebec and Canadian problem, but also an international one. By the way, I think it will be necessary for the government to define very clearly these famous control mechanisms and make solid political and governmental choices in connection with the new information technologies that will crop up here at home.
That is essentially where this will play out. We cannot give a foreign government control over telecommunications and computer infrastructure. It is extremely important. We are wading into another field, but to be able to protect our constituents we have to ensure that our infrastructure is not threatened by other countries or by foreign nationals, such as the hackers I mentioned earlier.
Then we have to find some form of standardization to help ensure that clients or consumers are protected during online transactions. Let's not forget the entire issue of metadata, which are a formidable tool for any bad actor wanting to target and attack groups that are more privileged or more vulnerable.
In conclusion, the federal government must ensure that Canadians can be guaranteed, in all circumstances, that a consistent international standard will be rigorously applied, and that it will be possible to efficiently identify any and all fraudsters. Identifying fraudsters has always been a problem, and the Canada Revenue Agency could speak at length about this in committee.