E-safety czar pro­posed to fight on­line ex­ploita­tion

Ottawa Citizen - - CANADA - Jim Bron­skill

Cre­at­ing a fed­eral e-safety czar could help fo­cus the up­hill strug­gle to pro­tect chil­dren from the ris­ing threat of on­line sex­ual ex­ploita­tion, front­line agen­cies have told the gov­ern­ment.

Strength­en­ing leg­is­la­tion to sup­port “timely and ef­fec­tive” in­ves­ti­ga­tions and work­ing more closely with the tech­nol­ogy sec­tor to shield chil­dren from harm are among the other rec­om­men­da­tions that emerged from a fed­eral con­sul­ta­tion last spring.

Pub­lic Safety Canada as­sem­bled about 70 peo­ple — in­clud­ing po­lice, pol­i­cy­mak­ers, in­dus­try rep­re­sen­ta­tives, vic­tim ser­vice providers and aca­demics — for two days of meet­ings in late March and fol­lowed the ses­sions with a ques­tion­naire.

The con­sul­ta­tion is the lat­est step in the gov­ern­ment’s ef­fort to com­bat the scourge of on­line abuse in the era of cam­era-equipped smart­phones and an ar­ray of apps, games and mes­sag­ing ser­vices avail­able to young peo­ple.

In ad­di­tion, vic­tims of child­hood sex­ual abuse of­ten suf­fer great dis­tress over the fact that video or pic­tures of the crimes are cir­cu­lat­ing in cy­berspace, com­pound­ing the dif­fi­cul­ties they al­ready ex­pe­ri­ence.

Par­tic­i­pants in the fed­eral con­sul­ta­tion spoke of a strong, highly en­gaged net­work of in­di­vid­u­als de­voted to pro­tect­ing chil­dren from preda­tors, says a sum­mary of the con­sul­ta­tion pre­pared by Pub­lic Safety, which has led a na­tional strat­egy on the prob­lem since 2004.

At the same time, in­creased reporting of in­ci­dents and re­source short­ages have led to prob­lems such as a large back­log for in­ves­ti­ga­tors, men­tal health and well-be­ing con­cerns for work­ers, “sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenges” in timely po­lice ac­cess to dig­i­tal ev­i­dence and a need to im­prove ser­vices for vic­tims.

The find­ings come two years af­ter a fed­er­ally com­mis­sioned study found “se­ri­ous gaps” in ef­forts — in­clud­ing re­sources, train­ing and re­search — to pro­tect young peo­ple from on­line sex­ual ex­ploita­tion.

Par­tic­i­pants in the lat­est con­sul­ta­tion felt a fed­eral esafety com­mis­sioner could pro­vide “a co-or­di­nated ap­proach to pro­mot­ing on­line safety of all Cana­di­ans,” the sum­mary says.

Other sug­ges­tions in­cluded:

❚ Rais­ing awareness of on­line child ex­ploita­tion among the gen­eral pub­lic.

❚ Con­duct­ing re­search on how to bet­ter meet the needs of vic­tims.

❚ Cre­at­ing a pan-Cana­dian coali­tion of non-gov­ern­ment or­ga­ni­za­tions and key gov­ern­ment de­part­ments to share knowl­edge and pro­vide a uni­fied voice to de­ci­sion-mak­ers.

❚ Es­tab­lish­ing a tech­nol­ogy group that sup­ports tech­driven in­no­va­tions and best prac­tices for safe on­line ser­vices.

❚ En­sur­ing the timely shar­ing of ba­sic in­for­ma­tion about in­ter­net sub­scribers with law en­force­ment.

❚ Strength­en­ing leg­is­la­tion to limit the travel of child sex of­fend­ers and im­prove re­sources for cen­tral­ized in­ves­ti­ga­tion of transna­tional of­fend­ers.

The of­fice of Pub­lic Safety Min­is­ter Ralph Goodale said the in­put is help­ing “shape our work to mod­ern­ize and re­new the strat­egy,” adding it would be pre­ma­ture to com­ment on spe­cific rec­om­men­da­tions.

Goodale re­cently vis­ited the Win­nipeg-based Cana­dian Cen­tre for Child Pro­tec­tion. In Fe­bru­ary, his depart­ment an­nounced fund­ing to help the cen­tre fur­ther de­velop a tool that de­tects on­line child sex abuse im­ages,


con­tinue oper­at­ing Cy­ber­tip.ca, a na­tional tip ser­vice, and es­tab­lish a sup­port net­work for vic­tims.

At the time, Goodale said the is­sue of on­line sex­ual ex­ploita­tion was be­ing dis­cussed among G7 mem­bers and in meet­ings of the Five Eyes al­liance, which con­sists of Canada, the United States, Bri­tain, Aus­tralia and New Zealand.

“The di­a­logue is global, and it in­volves gov­ern­ments and se­cu­rity min­is­ters,” he said. “It also very ac­tively in­volves the in­ter­net ser­vice providers.”

In its most re­cent bud­get, the gov­ern­ment al­lo­cated $19 mil­lion over five years and $5.8 mil­lion a year there­after to sup­port in­ves­tiga­tive ca­pac­ity through the RCMP’s Na­tional Child Ex­ploita­tion Co-or­di­na­tion Cen­tre.


Pub­lic Safety Min­is­ter Ralph Goodale says in­put from a fed­eral con­sul­ta­tion will in­form an on­line safety strat­egy.


Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.