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Federal Ombudsman For Victims Of Crime Reacts To Proposed Changes To Internet Law

OTTAWA (Ontario), June 18, 2009 - Canada's Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime, Steve Sullivan, today joined Canada's Minister of Justice, Rob Nicholson and Canada's Minister of Public Safety, Peter Van Loan, to announce long-awaited changes to Canada's access laws. The new laws will make it mandatory for Internet Service Providers to give police basic customer information without a warrant when investigating online crimes, such as the creation or sharing of child sexual abuse material.

The Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime (FOVC) has pushed for change on this issue since it was created, and most recently made another formal recommendation to the government in its first special report Every Image, Every Child released earlier this month. The report, which addresses Internet-facilitated child sexual abuse, describes the issue in detail and presents arguments for why it is so important to grant police access to this information.

"We have heard from law enforcement across this country that not having access to this information is one of the biggest challenges they face in investigating cases and rescuing innocent children who are being violently sexually abused," explains Sullivan. "This change will help give authorities some of the tools they need to keep our children safe."

Currently in Canada, ISPs are allowed, but not obligated, to provide police who do not have a warrant with customer name and address information. While many ISPs do cooperate, 30 to 40 percent of requests are still being denied.

Previous public discussions on the issue have resulted in strong debate, as the issue is often misconstrued by critics as providing police with unwarranted and unlimited access to personal information and internet-surfing files.

"There has been a lot of dangerous misinformation and misunderstanding around this issue," says Sullivan. "The changes proposed will give police access to only the customer's basic information such as a name or an address, not to personal information like surfing history or banking records. It is in no way different than police looking up your name and address using your license plate number. This is not a privacy issue; it's a child safety issue."

To view FOVC's report Every Image, Every Child, or to learn more about the Office, visit the website at: www.victimsfirst.gc.ca

Created in 2007, the Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime helps victims to address their needs, promotes their interests and makes recommendations to the federal government on issues that negatively impact victims.

Media contact

For more information please contact:

Christina McDonald
Senior Communications Advisor
Telephone: 613-941-3428