MONT TREMBLANT, Que. (CP) - Canada will introduce new Internet legislation next fall to give police more tools to fight cyber crime, including terrorism, Justice Minister Martin Cauchon said Tuesday.
Cauchon and Solicitor General Lawrence MacAulay wrapped up a two-day conference of G-8 justice and interior ministers with broad calls for greater international crime-fighting co-operation. The most specific measure was a consensus to develop an international databank on child pornography, although details were scant.
Overcoming privacy hurdles will be the subject of months of deliberations by G-8 bureaucrats.
Cauchon spoke of the "intolerable" child porn industry, saying images of victims must be centrally available to police in many countries in order to track both victims and perpetrators.
"These images are in fact scenes of crimes being committed," said Cauchon. "There's a common will to proceed quickly.
"But of course (G-8 working groups) will have to look at the structure, look at the concerns of the member states."
In the meantime, the Group of Eight leading industrialized countries will move to enact the Council of Europe Convention on Cyber Crime, the first international treaty dealing with crimes committed on the Internet.
"Criminals are using the Internet to plan and commit crimes and, in doing so, they leave an electronic trail behind," said Cauchon.
That trail, however, is fleeting and fragile.
The problem of police pursuit is two-fold: companies are not compelled to turn over information to authorities in most cases, and Internet providers often discard E-mail traffic in as little as one week.
To solve these problems, Ottawa will work co-operatively with industry - everyone from banks to telephone companies to Internet service providers - to find a consensus on preserving data, including billing information and routing.
Then, the government will bring in legislation that will likely lay out rules for police to compel companies to produce data, or to preserve specific date indefinitely while an investigation continues.
The link between cyber crime, terrorist acts and terrorist financing was also a central theme of the conference here - one of several ministerial meetings being held in advance of the G-8 leaders summit in Kananaskis, Alta., June 26-27.
MacAulay said all G-8 countries are onside in the effort to track and suppress terrorist financing. More than $100 million US has been frozen through orders of more than 151 countries.
"We agreed more can be done," said MacAulay. "We must forfeit their assets."
One troubling offshoot of the attack on terrorism's cash flow is the possibility of more organized criminal behaviour to help pick up the slack.
MacAulay downplayed the connection between organized crime and terrorism, although he had opened the conference by trumpeting his concern.
"We agree this is not yet critical issue within our countries," MacAulay said.
"However, as we continue to cut off sources of funding for terrorists we will have to be on guard to the possibility of terrorists seeking new sources of funds, such as through organized crime."
The first collective meeting of the G-8 justice and interior ministers since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 did not attract an all-star cast.
U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and Roberto Castelli, Italy's justice minister, were the only senior political ministers attending from outside Canada.
France, Japan and Russia sent bureaucrats, while Britain and Germany sent parliamentary secretaries.
The G-8 ministers of finance, environment, labour and energy have already held separate pre-Kananaskis meetings and G-8 foreign ministers will convene in June at Whistler, B.C.
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