With the House of Commons back in session this week there will be a number of different votes occurring largely on Bills that I have referenced in previous reports that continue to move through the Parliamentary process. Bill C-43, “Removal of Foreign Criminals” will be voted on at the conclusion of second reading debate as will Bill C-37 “Increasing Accountability for Victim’s Act”. There will also be a third reading vote on a Private Member's Bill C-299 “Kidnapping of Young Persons”. Bill C-299 is a private member’s bill from my Kootenay-Columbia colleague, MP David Wilks. Many citizens may recall the tragic Sparwood, B.C. kidnapping of a three year old toddler who fortunately was returned to his family four days after having been abducted from the family residence. This Private Member's Bill C-299 proposes increased minimum sentences for those who kidnap children unknown to them who are under the age of sixteen.
Also occurring early this week will be an opposition private member’s motion, M-385, calling for a special all-party committee of MP’s to study and develop a national bullying prevention strategy. There has been some confusion as it has been suggested that this motion was drafted quickly in response to the recent bullying related tragedy occurring in the lower mainland late last week. This particular motion was actually drafted back on May 30th of 2012 and illustrates the ongoing impact of bullying in our society. I believe if we are to take further action against bullying we need to also consider bullying that exists online. As the use of the internet has increased so too has disturbing incidents of cyber-bullying, which in many cases has become almost rampant in some areas on the internet. Social media sites, online discussion forums, comments on media stories are often filled with hate related comments, personal insults and attacks and even at times threats. These types of actions are almost always from those individuals who hide under the anonymity of an internet IP address.
As many of you recall, Bill C-30 proposed that those individuals who use the internet for purposes that include crime, fraud, to engage in child pornography, identity theft, or use of threats and violence could have their basic IP contact information made available to law enforcement to assist in an investigation. Contrary to what was stated often in the media, Bill C-30 did not authorize individuals to be “spied on” without judicial oversight. What Bill C-30 did propose was that law enforcement would have access to the same basic contact information in the cyber community as is currently available in the real world from something like a licence plate on a vehicle. As the internet continues to play a more prominent role in all aspects of our society, and in particular with our youth, we must also ensure that we have measures in place to safeguard our most vulnerable from those predators and criminals who use the internet for illicit and illegal purposes. As it stands today there is little accountability online and increasingly the interests of Canadians are being compromised as our means to safeguard the internet are not keeping pace with technology.
One point that I would like to emphasize is that no Member of Parliament that I have met is looking to politicize a very important issue. However as a society we must also recognize the need for a balance that we can help to achieve through our democratic process. While we as Canadians greatly value our current online freedoms that include anonymity we must also ask how long we are prepared to stand aside while that same anonymity is increasingly being misused to victimize others through online cyber bulling, fraud, identity theft and other illicit and illegal acts. I am not suggesting for a moment that we create a “big brother” environment online, only that we ensure that law enforcement has the same basic abilities in the cyber community as they do in the real world helping to ensure our streets and communities are safe. As it stands today, a RCMP officer can more readily access the contact information for a hit and run driver than they can access the contact information for an IP address of someone who is posting inappropriate pictures of a minor online. We must also recognize that for many of today’s youth, being victimized in the online community can be just as devastating and harmful if not more so than anywhere else. I believe it is time we increased accountability online and I welcome your views on this topic.
Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for Okanagan-Coquihalla and can be reached at [email protected] or by phone (250) 770-4480.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.