Winnipeg, MB: Today, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection (Canadian Centre) introduced a new tool to combat the growing proliferation of child sexual abuse material on the Internet. Dubbed “Project Arachnid”, this automated crawler will help reduce the online availability of child sexual abuse material and break the cycle of abuse.
Project Arachnid detects images and videos of child sexual abuse material based on confirmed digital fingerprints of illegal content. Once content has been identified, a notice is sent to the hosting provider to request its immediate removal. This innovative tool detects content at a speed exponentially faster than current methods. In a very short period of only six weeks, Project Arachnid:
- Processed over 230 million web pages
- Detected over 5.1 million unique web pages hosting child sexual abuse material
- Detected over 40,000 unique images of child sexual abuse material
“These numbers serve as a reality check about the serious problem of child sexual abuse,” said Lianna McDonald, Executive Director of the Canadian Centre. “We can no longer deny what is right in front of us. We believe that knowledge is the best antidote to societal denial that these types of things don’t happen to children.”
The need for Project Arachnid is based on Cybertip.ca witnessing the growing proliferation of child sexual abuse material, and was further validated by the Canadian Centre’s International Survivors’ Survey. This survey was developed to better understand the unique challenges faced by survivors whose abuse as a child was recorded and, in many instances, distributed online. To date, 128 survivors from around the world have contributed valuable information about their experiences. Some of the preliminary results1 include:
- 73% of the survivors worry about being recognized by someone because of the recording of their child sexual abuse
- Nearly 60% of the survivors indicated that the single/primary abuser was a parent
- 56% of the survivors indicated that the abuse began before between the ages of 0-four, and of those, over 60% indicated that the abuse continued into adulthood
- At least 66 surveys (52%) involved organized sexual abuse (abuse that involves children being subjected to sexual abuse by multiple offenders)
- 67% of the survivors were threatened with physical harm and of those 43% were told they would die or be killed
- 82% of the survivors anticipate needing ongoing/future therapy
“Given what we heard from survivors, we believe that one of the most important outcomes of Project Arachnid will be the psychological relief offered to survivors who have had no control over the ongoing sharing of their abuse,” said McDonald. “Project Arachnid is using technology to counter the years of misuse by offenders and to help end the cycle of abuse.”
The survey continues to be available, and other survivors are encouraged to participate in this important initiative. The goal is to collaborate with the international working group established by the Canadian Centre to assist in the development of global recommendations related to this issue.
As stated by one survivor who, with her siblings, was a victim of this crime; “Child pornography isn’t easily understood or acknowledged. From our young childhood till adulthood we have been exploited every day. Every. Day. Against our will. At times we have felt helpless, hopeless and have lived in fear. We want to tell others who are also victims you no longer need to live in fear or wear guilt and shame every day. There is hope. So many great people are working hard every day to protect us.”
The Canadian Centre operates Cybertip.ca, Canada’s tipline to report the online sexual exploitation and abuse of children, which processes on average 3,500 reports per month. Our agency has created an animated video to showcase the power of Project Arachnid and the urgent need to break the cycle of abuse experienced by survivors of this heinous crime. The complete Survivors’ Survey report, including recommendations, will be released in the coming months. The Survivors’ Survey Preliminary Report is available at http://protectchildren.ca/arachnid.
1. All numbers are based on the report released January 17, 2017 titled Survivor's Survey Preliminary Report and are subject to the explanations and limitations set out in the report. Percentages are rounded to the nearest whole number and are subject to change in the final report. Not all survivors responded to all questions in the survey, so not all percentages are based on 128 responses.