Global tool disrupting international distribution of child sexual abuse imagery marks five years
For Immediate Release
Winnipeg, Manitoba – Over the last five years, six million images and videos of child sexual exploitation across more than 1,000 electronic service providers, spanning nearly 100 countries has been removed from the internet throughProject Arachnid. Project Arachnid—operated by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection (C3P)—is an innovative, global tool that detects known images of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) on the clear and dark web and issues removal notices to electronic service providers. The platform not only combats the proliferation of CSAM, but provides relief to survivors by helping break the cycle of victimization.
"We never knew that there was any hope for getting the images of our abuse taken down from the internet. We always thought it was another thing that we could not control. Now that we know that there are actually ways to do it, we want it all shut down. We don’t want any more children to have to deal with what we deal with if that can be fixed," explains a CSAM survivor, supported by C3P.
Since its launch in 2017, Project Arachnid has detected more than 42.7 million possible images of CSAM and sent 10.8+ million removal notices to content providers around the world. This is in part due to a growing, global collaboration involving 11 child protection organizations whose analysts are working to scale up the capacity and impact of Project Arachnid.
“We are collectively working to expedite the removal of CSAM that has traumatically impacted survivors for years, if not decades. We have left society’s most vulnerable to be continually exploited online for far too long. This has to end,” says Lianna McDonald, Executive Director for C3P.
This urgency is further underscored by the massive backlog of material C3P is facing. Because Project Arachnid is able to detect derivatives of known CSAM (possible CSAM) and that ability far outpaces the human resources to assess the content, 35 million images/videos have yet to be assessed.
“This is just what our platform has found. We’ve only just started to really pull back the curtain on what has been a silent epidemic and assess the threat,” explains McDonald, adding the data held by Project Arachnid offers C3P an unprecedented look into the global availability of CSAM online. This helps C3P to better identify systemic failures and where the gaps in child protection lie in order to hold industry and government accountable, promote transparency, and assist policymakers in developing effective regulatory frameworks that protect children and support survivors.
Project Arachnid’s goals and initiatives have been backed by governments, including the Government of Canada through Public Safety, and the UK Home Office. Public Safety Canada’s steadfast support under the National Strategy for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation on the Internet has been essential to the success of Project Arachnid.
In marking Project Arachnid’s five year milestone, C3P has publicly released a three-minute video, Unwanted Followers. The video, which initially premiered at a G7 meeting in London, tells the real stories and experiences of survivors whose child sexual abuse was recorded and distributed online.
To watch the film and learn about how Project Arachnid is helping to break the cycle of victimization for survivors, visit protectchildren.ca/change.
Quotes from international organizations working with C3P in Project Arachnid:
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