C-30, our Conservative Government's Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act, will equip law enforcement with tools to ensure that criminals and terrorist groups do not exploit modern communication technologies to hide their illegal activities. But some Canadians have voiced concerns about the bill's potential impact on personal privacy and that, in turn, has sparked a great amount of discussion, mostly - and appropriately enough - on the Internet and through social media.
In watching the debate unfold, I am sympathetic to people's concerns about privacy. I'd be just as concerned if some of what I'm reading online about the bill were actually true. But in fact it is not true, and I'm glad for this opportunity to address some of the persistent myths surrounding Bill C-30 so that people can have a balanced view of what the legislation actually will achieve.
There is a fairly widespread consensus that our current laws do not adequately protect Canadians from online exploitation. Our Government wants to improve protection from online crime, and particularly our children from child pornographers, by updating our laws to reflect the reality of rapid changes in technology - all while striking the right balance to protect privacy.
Bill C-30 essentially streamlines the process for obtaining warrants and orders related to the interception of private communications and modernizes investigative techniques for use against cybercrime. Yet the main argument I continue to hear from opponents of the bill is that it opens up Canadians' online activity to random snooping by law enforcement agencies.
That simply is not the case.
Let me be very clear: the police will not be able to read e-mails or view web activity unless they obtain a warrant issued by a judge. We have also constructed safeguards to protect the privacy of Canadians, including audits by privacy commissioners.
This legislation has already been modified as a result of consultations held with various stakeholders, including privacy commissioners and privacy advocates. Those consultations led to significant changes designed to strengthen the privacy safeguards contained in the proposed Act.
In addition to those changes, our Government is sending this legislation directly to a Parliamentary Committee before Second Reading debate for a full examination. That is not a typical step in the Parliamentary process and is another example of how our Government is committed to an open discussion about how to better protect Canadians from online crime while being mindful of Canadians' privacy concerns. If you have suggestions on how Bill C-30 can strike a better balance, I am very open to hearing them.