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New Online Harms Bill is Critical to the Online Protection of Children

For Immediate Release

The Canadian Centre for Child Protection (C3P) expresses its support for the newly introduced Online Harms Bill, a pivotal first step toward safeguarding Canadian children in digital environments they use every day.

The introduction of this proposed law now sets Canada on a path that could bring it in line with the UK, the EU, and Australia, where similar legal guardrails currently require that online service providers — such as social media companies — meet safety standards designed to protect its users.

Citizens are reminded this announcement comes at a time when Canadian children are being victimized online in record numbers:

  • Police-reported online child sexual exploitation in Canada has increased by more than 162 percent between 2014 and 2020, according to Statistics Canada1;
  • In the last 18 months, has received nearly 6,000 reports from victims of online sextortion, with representation across all communities in Canada;

Consistently, reports find these harms occur primarily on mainstream applications used by millions of Canadian youths each day. The safety of these users can no longer be permitted to be an afterthought, trumped by commercial interests — we’re confident this bill has the potential to reverse this gross misalignment of interests.

Our organization bears witness to the fallout of online harm in our society through the operation, Canada's tipline for reporting online child sexual abuse and exploitation. In addition, our efforts on the international stage to curb the distribution of child sexual abuse imagery on the internet through Project Arachnid has resulted in the targeted issuance of more than 39 million takedown notices to more than 1,500 online service providers worldwide.

Our support for this important initiative, therefore, comes from a place of first-hand experience and deep empathy for victims and survivors.

We look forward to the opportunity to support in any way possible the government and committee members as they embark on this crucial work.

In solidarity with children and Canadian families.

“The tabling of the Online Harms Bill is a historic day for children in Canada. This is the beginning of a sensible discussion outlining tech platforms’ responsibility in protecting those most vulnerable. It is long past time that the protection and safety of children and survivors is prioritized online. The time is now — too many lives have been sacrificed.”

— Lianna McDonald, Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection

“One of the first times I witnessed strangers engage in sexual activities it was a grown man and a little girl. Unregulated internet spaces provided my stepfather free access to the child sexual abuse he used to groom me from a young age. It helped him normalize the production of my abuse material.

Tech companies have been allowed to operate unregulated without regard for how harmful their services can be to survivors and children and they aren’t going to change unless they have to. Canada needs regulation to require that tech companies remove harmful and illegal content to prevent more stories like mine.”

— Survivor of child sexual abuse material

“Families have the right to feel confident that their children are protected in the online world and not to have experienced the traumatic events that my family has gone through.

The digital space now demands comprehensive safety measures. The Canadian Online Harms Bill serves as an additional layer of protection, keeping our children safe in these digital realms.”

— Carol Todd, mother of Amanda Todd

“On February 19th of [2022] our son Daniel took his life after being a victim of an online organized sextortion ring. He was 17 years old. Every day our family has to wake up to this nightmare. This was not his fault.

Every time I read an article about a child being victimized online, it always goes back to the parents - watch your child online and have the hard conversations. We did all those things. We talked to them whenever we read about a new risk online. Despite our online safety coaching; a Nigerian scammer posing as a young women coerced Danny into sharing intimate images of himself over Snapchat. These predators then used the images to blackmail him. He emptied his bank account of the $300 he had, trying to pay them off. That wasn’t enough for them and they kept up the demands or his image was being released to all his family and friends. Danny felt backed into a corner and like he was the criminal. Our family now tragically knows how easily anonymous online terrorists can access children.

We ask you to please consider regulatory bills that will force social media companies to make their products safer for our children. We ask you to think of Danny.”

— Canadian mom whose son died by suicide after being sextorted
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About the Canadian Centre for Child Protection: The Canadian Centre for Child Protection (C3P) is a national charity dedicated to the personal safety of all children. The organization’s goal is to reduce the sexual abuse and exploitation of children through programs, services, and resources for Canadian families, educators, child serving organizations, law enforcement, and other parties. C3P also operates, Canada’s national tipline to report child sexual abuse and exploitation on the internet, and Project Arachnid, a web platform designed to detect known images of CSAM on the clear and dark web and issue removal notices to industry.

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