The internet has become an invaluable tool for Canadian governments, businesses, and individuals. Just as cyberspace is constantly evolving, so too are the cyber threats to our security, prosperity and quality of life. The Government of Canada is committed to protecting Canadians from the threat of cybercrime.

Cybercrime is generally defined as a criminal offence involving a computer as the object of the crime (hacking, phishing, spamming), or as the tool used to commit a material component of the offence (child pornography, hate crimes, computer fraud). Criminals can also use computers for communication and document or data storage.

Domestic Initiatives

Many government departments (including the Department of Justice, the RCMP, Public Safety Canada, and Global Affairs Canada) work together to protect Canadians from the threat of cybercrime. Partnerships have also been developed between International, Federal and Provincial law enforcement agencies. One example of this type of coordination is the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, a joint effort of the RCMP, OPP, and the Competition Bureau of Canada to combat internet and mass-marketing fraud.

On October 3, 2010, the Federal Government launched Canada’s Cyber Security Strategy to enhance protection from cyber threats for Canadian individuals, industries, and governments from coast to coast to coast. (After public consultations in 2016, the strategy is currently under review.)

Canada's anti-spam legislation (CASL) came into effect July 1, 2014. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has the primary enforcement responsibility for the anti-spam law.

On March 10, 2015, The Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act came into force. This legislation provides law enforcement agencies with new, specialized investigative powers to help them take action against Internet child sexual exploitation, and disrupt on-line organized crime activity.

International Initiatives

Canada has ratified and is a strong supporter of the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime. Also known as the Budapest Convention, this document is the only binding international instrument designed specifically to combat cybercrime. The Budapest Convention serves as a guideline for developing comprehensive national legislation against cybercrime and as a framework for international cooperation between State Parties.

Global Affairs Canada also coordinates Canada’s active participation in international initiatives to combat cybercrime. This work takes place in a number of fora, including the G7, the UNODC, and the OAS. It has also funded capacity building initiatives to help other countries to better protect themselves and the Internet from criminality that easily transcends borders and often threatens Canadians from abroad.

For more information on Canada's broader approaches to the Internet, please see Internet Foreign Policy Issues.