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

Canadian Armed Forces assist with mop-up of fire near West Kelowna

100 Armed Forces members are helping BC Wildfire crews with the Gottfriedson Mountain fire

New development proposed for Lake Country

Council will be deciding on a development permit for a subdivision on Rogers Road

Water advisory lifted at Westbank First Nation

Indian reserve #9 was affected

Wildfires converge near Lumby, Armed Forces en route

Area restrictions expanded, firefighters equipment stolen

Kelowna street closures Sunday for public markets

Kelowna Farmers’ and Crafters’ Market and the Rutland Community Market on this weekend

B.C. wildfires 2018: Hazy skies impacting crews in spotting new fires

18,000 people are on an evacuation alert, with 3,000 homes under an evacuation order

Red Cross now accepting donations for those impacted by B.C. wildfires

The Canadian Red Cross is asking for help now and in the weeks and months ahead.

B.C. program to educate parents reduces ‘shaken baby syndrome’ by 35%

Period of PURPLE Crying was launched nearly a decade ago

Osland to make LPGA Tour debut

Kelowna’s Megan Osland has earned an exemption into next week’s CP Women’s Open in Regina.

B.C. golfer, just 23, scores the rare albatross

Six-million-to-one shot a first for the Terrace club

Fredericton widow swears at Trudeau during condolence call

Widow of man killed in Fredericton shooting says she swore at Trudeau during condolence call.

Tim Hortons promises leaky lids on coffee cups to be phased out

Tim Hortons looks to rebuild its brand with better lid, new marketing campaign

‘There’s been a lot of devastation:’ man whose family lost homes in B.C. fire

The provincial government declared a state of emergency Wednesday as more than 550 wildfires burn in every corner of B.C.

Capsized tug now out of the water at the mouth of B.C.’s Fraser River

The 19-metre-long George H. Ledcor capsized late Monday.

Most Read