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

Summerland golfers compete

Season begins for local golf leagues

Easter Fun Day packs ‘em in for Penticton child and youth development centre

It’s expected record numbers of people turned up for the ninth annual Easter Fun Day

Summerland Kiwanis Club provides support to local organizations

Cheques presented to organizations from Summerland and region

Penticton Speedway revved up to celebrate 50 years

The season will see go-carts and new races in part of its 50th anniversary

Mounties identify woman found dead on Kelowna beach

“Our investigators do not believe criminality was involved.”

Homeless activists outside Notre Dame demand ‘a roof too’

Wealthy people have donated millions to effort to rebuild cathedral after devastating fire

South Okanagan community bands together on social media after shootings

Many in Penticton have turned to social media to express their condolences

Pacific Poke bowl lovers can get a free taste at the restaurant’s ‘Grand Opening Event’

The restaurant will offer some of its specials Thursday evening at its Kelowna location

PHOTOS: Green Party Leader Elizabeth May says ‘I do’ on Earth Day

May and John Kidder got married Monday morning in Victoria

Okanagan resort seeking connnection to rail trail

Predator Ridge Resort slated to present wish for trail from resort to ORT to Vernon council

South Okanagan society looking to bring new racing event to their park

The Desert Park Exhibition Society board is looking into hosting another major event

Youth Shelter Fundraiser encourages kids to play for a good cause

The fundraiser takes place April 27 at the EnergyPlex

Okanagan power outage scuttles – but not ruins – city’s mission’s Easter meals

Vernon’s Upper Room Mission will serve Easter dinner a day later due to downtown power outage

Waterway Houseboats wins $2 million for damages caused in 2012 flood

Houseboat company wins lawsuit involving Province of British Columbia, District of Sicamous

Most Read