The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada introduced legislation to help combat identity theft on November 21.
“This Government is following through on its commitment to give police the tools they need to better protect Canadians by stopping identity theft activity before the damage is done,” said Minister Nicholson. “I have tabled legislation that will make it an offence to obtain, possess or traffic in other people’s identity information if it is to be used to commit a crime.”
The misuse of another person’s identity information, generally referred to as identity fraud, is covered by current offences in the Criminal Code, such as impersonation and forgery. But the preparatory steps of collecting, possessing and trafficking in identity information are generally not captured by existing offences. The proposed legislation would create three new offences directly targeting aspects of the identity theft problem, all subject to five-year maximum sentences:
* obtaining or possessing identity information with intent to use it to commit certain crimes;
* trafficking in identity information with knowledge of or recklessness as to its intended use in the commission of certain crime; and
* unlawfully possessing and trafficking in government-issued identity documents.
Online version of Bill C-27, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (identity theft and related misconduct)
Leading Canadian e-law expert Michael Geist stated, “This is good and long overdue legislation. It is not a complete solution, however. While penalties for identity theft are needed, Canada also needs to take steps to:
* Allow Canadians to self-protect against identity theft,
* Create incentives for companies to safeguard personal information against the prospect of identity theft,
* Introduce legislation to address some of the activities used to facilitate identity theft, including spam, ‘phishing‘ and spyware, and
* Introduce a mandatory security breach notification law so that Canadians are advised when their personal information is lost, stolen or improperly disclosed and may be at heightened risk for identity theft.”