Federal e-safety czar proposed to fight plague of online child exploitation

Findings come two years after a federally commissioned study found ”serious gaps” in efforts

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, policy-makers, 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 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.

READ MORE: Feds earmark cash to protect children from online sexual exploitation

READ MORE: 16 Canadians charged in global child sex abuse investigation

READ MORE: B.C.’s children are at risk, says child sex trafficking watchdog

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 e-safety 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 tech-driven 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.

Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Two Alberni Valley hockey players win bronze at NAHC finals

Team BC male awarded a bronze medal after controversial decision

Port Alberni to hold Walk for Dog Guides on May 26

Fundraising event one of 300 across Canada

Mattress recycling program provides work experience in Port Alberni

Recycle Matters was started by INEO Employment Services

Port Alberni’s Five Acre Shaker announces first headliner

Canadian rock band Harlequin will take the stage on Sunday

Two new developments approved for Port Alberni

Rental apartments and new retail space proposed

UPDATE: B.C. pilot killed in Honduras plane crash

The crash happened in the Roatan Islands area, according to officials

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

Two cats die in house fire in Nanaimo

Fire happened just after 2 p.m. Sunday on Fifth Street, one resident displaced

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

Carbon dioxide at highest levels for over 2.5 million years, expert warns of 100 years of disruption

CO2 levels rising rapidly, now higher than at any point in humanity’s history

RCMP arrest violent offender on Vancouver Island

Police struggle with suspect and take him down with a taser

B.C. ferry stops to let black bear swim past near Nanaimo

Queen of Oak Bay brakes for wildlife in Nanaimo’s Departure Bay

Most Read