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(Jan 02, 2008) On November 21, 2007, Canada's ruling Conservative government, headed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, introduced a bill that would create a new offense of identity theft and address a number of related matters (Bill C-27, 39th Parl. 2d Sess.). The bill would make it an offense to obtain personal identity information to commit such other offenses as fraud, deceit, or falsehoods. Identity information would include biological and physiological information that is commonly used alone or with other information. Fingerprints, voice prints, retina images, iris images, DNA profiles, addresses, date of birth, signature, names, credit card numbers, debit card numbers, account numbers, passport numbers, social insurance numbers, health insurance numbers, and driver's license numbers and passwords would all be included. Transmitting, selling, distributing, or possessing identity information with the knowledge that it is intended to be used illegally or with recklessness as to whether it could be used illegally would also be illegal. The bill proposes a maximum punishment of five years' imprisonment if the person is tried after being indicted. Persons charged with a summary offense would be liable for up to six months' imprisonment.

Bill C-27 also covers a number of other matters. For example, it creates a new offense of fraudulently impersonating another person for an illegal purpose. The maximum punishment for this offense is ten years' imprisonment. Persons convicted of illegally impersonating another could also be required to pay their victims any costs incurred in re-establishing their credit ratings and replacing their credit documents. In the case of impersonating a police officer, it would not be necessary to show that the accused intended to do so for an illegal purpose, but anyone who commits this offense would be liable to up to five years' imprisonment.

Bill C-27 had only received a first reading in the House of Commons before Parliament was adjourned until the end of January 2008. In order to become law, it will have to be studied and reported on by a committee, receive second and third readings, be passed by the Senate, and receive Royal Assent. Nevertheless, the introduction of Bill C-27 is part of the criminal law reforms, which are a major goal of the Conservative government.

Author: Stephen Clarke More by this author
Topic: Crime and law enforcement More on this topic
Jurisdiction: Canada More about this jurisdiction

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Last updated: 01/02/2008