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Cybertip.ca’s 15th Anniversary

For the past 15 years, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection (Canadian Centre) has operated Cybertip.ca – Canada’s tipline to report the online sexual exploitation of children. As an independent, charitable, non-governmental agency, the Canadian Centre has played a unique and critical role in this space by offering a national clearinghouse for triaging potentially illegal reports as well as providing Canadians with resources to reduce child victimization on the Internet.

Cybertip.ca’s 15th Anniversary Report highlights Canadians’ use of the tipline’s service, our results and successes, the evolution of the tipline over the years, our commitment to innovation and what we have learned over the years. Cybertip.ca is steadfast in its pledge to be an instrument of change and a catalyst for collaboration between the public, private and non-profit sectors recognizing the critical need for all stakeholders to work together to get ahead of this very serious issue impacting our youngest and most vulnerable children.

The role of technology in facilitating sexual offences against children has significantly evolved over the years, as has our understanding of sexual offending behaviour and the manifestation of these activities on the Internet. We know that more needs to be done to identify and support child victims of sexual abuse, identify offenders, and reduce the availability of child sexual abuse material.

Child sexual abuse and the recording of the abuse is a significant problem in our society

Project Arachnid is currently discovering approximately 80,000 unique images per month that require analyst assessment and this number has been steadily increasing each month by 5% to 18%. Analyst assessment is triggered when Project Arachnid comes across a webpage with images that are suspect in nature. Other images on the page are also reviewed as they are likely to involve child sexual exploitation.

It is critical to recognize when technology should be leveraged versus when human assessment is required

The use of cryptographic hashes immensely aids in the detection of child sexual abuse material that has been previously assessed by analysts within the tipline. It not only allows us to reduce the exposure of analysts to very difficult material, but also provides the tipline the opportunity to minimize the harm and re-victimization of the child displayed in the material by reducing the continued viewing of that material.

Public education is essential if we are to significantly reduce child sexual abuse and exploitation

Efforts must be focused on preventing child sexual abuse from occurring in the first place so offenders’ opportunities to record and share the abusive material with others is limited. For this to occur, adults around children need to be educated about how to recognize inappropriate behaviour and recognize situations that present risk if we are to reduce and intervene where warranted to disrupt the abuse process.

After 15 years of operating Cybertip.ca, the tipline is well positioned to work with government, police and industry, leverage stakeholders’ unique assets and make a real and lasting difference for the protection of children. In spite of the significant progress made over the years, it is clear that we must all strengthen our commitment to fight the exploitation and sexual abuse of children as they deserve nothing less.