Partnership fights online child exploitation

UVic’s International Institute for Child Rights and Development (IICRD)—based at the Centre for Global Studies—is overseeing a new international collaboration that fights online child exploitation.

As more developing countries gain access to the Internet, the availability of online child pornography and abuse of children also expands. Approximately 20 per cent of all Internet pornography involves children, and law enforcement agencies are hard-pressed to combat online child exploitation. There are more than four million sites depicting child abuse images and links to child sex tourism and child trafficking offences.

The Child Protection Partnership (CPP) brings together the institute, the RCMP, UNICEF and Microsoft. It combines the partners’ leadership in child rights protection, law enforcement, international development and software to combat online child exploitation in developing countries. The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) has committed $2.6 million to fund it.

“Online child exploitation has no boundaries,” says Suzanne Williams, IICRD deputy and legal director. “Through this partnership, law enforcement and supporting sectors in developing countries will have better tools to mount an effective fight against this criminal activity, share in the latest knowledge gained from around the world, and become part of a multi-stakeholder collaboration that protects the rights and dignity of vulnerable children.”

Over the next three years, IICRD will also serve as the partnership’s executing agency. It will support the CPP through the institute’s culturally grounded child and human rights education expertise, and by leveraging its child rights knowledge base and worldwide network.

CPP countries will be able to use Microsoft’s Child Exploitation Tracking System (CETS) for free. CETS is a case management software tool for law enforcement that facilitates close collaboration across police agencies by linking agents and computer databases, as well as analyzing the shared data. To date, Microsoft has invested $9 million in CETS, and the tool has assisted in arresting perpetrators of online child exploitation, including a 2006 case where 27 people in four countries ran a sophisticated chat room where children were abused.

CPP will assist policy-makers at all levels to further human rights and respect for the rule of law as well as increase access to services and legal protection for children and their families.

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Keywords: fighting, online, exploitation

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