Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act
Canadian authorities currently operate with investigative powers largely developed in the days of rotary telephones. Rapid changes in technology without the commensurate changes to provide law enforcement and national security agencies with the tools they need to deal with crime and national security threats have made it more difficult for authorities to conduct investigations. While technology has advanced significantly over the past four decades, the legal frameworks and investigative processes available to law enforcement, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the Competition Bureau have not kept pace with this evolution.
Bill C-30 will equip police, CSIS and the Competition Bureau with the tools they need to ensure criminals and terrorist groups do not exploit modern communication technologies to hide their illegal activities. All proposed provisions will help strike the proper balance between investigative needs and privacy protection.
The proposed legislation will improve Canada’s ability to work with its international partners to combat crime and terrorism.
Key elements of the proposed Bill
Telecommunications service providers (TSPs) would be required to implement and maintain a technical capability to enable lawfully authorized interceptions. Current practice of access to the actual content of communications will still require lawful authority as is the case today.
Implementation of the legislation would:
- be flexible and gradual to avoid undue burden on the telecommunications industry;
- apply to newly-installed equipment;
- allow a transition period of 18 months to give telecommunications service providers time to plan and adjust to requirements;
- reduce requirements for smaller service providers for the first three years; and
- permit TSPs to apply for exemptions, as necessary, in certain circumstances.
Basic subscriber information
Telecommunications service providers would be required to provide basic subscriber information to designated police, CSIS and Competition Bureau officials upon request. This identifying information would be limited to a subscriber’s name, address, phone number, email address, IP address, and the name of their service provider. These provisions do not provide access to the contents of an individual’s communications. Basic subscriber information is often required at the early stages of investigations or to fulfill general policing duties. This information can already be provided without a warrant under existing legislation, but only on a voluntary basis, which results in inconsistent access and delay. The Bill will also introduce strict controls and protections for the release of basic subscriber information, including record-keeping and audits, which do not exist today.
Streamlined process for obtaining warrants and orders related to a wiretap authorization
The proposed legislation would provide a single court application process for obtaining judicial authorization for multiple investigative tools related to a single investigation involving the interception of private communications.
Bill C-30 would:
- reduce delays by allowing the judge issuing the wiretap authorization, to grant all other associated warrants or orders;
- enhance judicial oversight by giving the court a complete picture of the investigation;
- allow for all warrants and orders issued or made in connection with the wiretap authorization to expire at the same time; and
- automatically seal all warrants and orders related to the investigation in relation to which the interception authorization is obtained.
This Bill would make the safeguards of “reporting” and “notification” applicable to section 184.4 of the Criminal Code which permits, in exceptional circumstances such as kidnappings and bomb threats, private communications to be intercepted without a court authorization. These amendments would require such interceptions to be publicly reported annually, and would require notification be sent to a person whose private communications were intercepted under these exceptional circumstances within 90 days of the date on which the private communications were intercepted (subject to any extensions, which would be granted by a judge).
Modernization of investigative techniques
Bill C-30 would help to better address cybercrime and crimes committed using modern communication technologies. Examples of these include:
- enabling police to safeguard computer data for a limited period of time through a preservation demand so that a warrant or production order can be obtained prior to the computer data being deleted;
- modernizing the number recorder warrants provision (for telephones) by expanding it to include all forms of telecommunications (transmission data recorder warrants);
- allowing for the police to trace and identify the originating service provider involved in the transmission of a specified communication; and
- raising the judicial threshold to authorize a tracking warrant from a suspicion-based to a belief-based standard in situations involving the tracking of an individual’s movements (by identifying the location of a thing that is usually carried or worn by a person, e.g., cell phone).
Ratification of Convention on Cybercrime
The proposed legislation would also permit ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime and the Additional Protocol to the Convention on Cybercrime, Concerning the Criminalization of Acts of a Racist and Xenophobic Nature Committed Through Computer Systems.
Addressing Hate Crime
The term hate crime (also known as bias-motivated crimes) refers to criminal actions intended to harm or intimidate members of an “identifiable group” because of their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, or other minority group status. Bill C-30 proposes that section 319 of the Criminal Code’s hate propaganda offences be amended to include national origin, sex, age, and mental or physical disability in its definition of “identifiable group.”