Video above: Hundreds arrested in international child porn investigation
TORONTO – A website that relies solely on public tips has played an important role in an international child pornography investigation led by Toronto Police. The investigation resulted in the arrest of 341 people and the rescue of 386 children, announced Thursday morning in Toronto.
Forty-one-year-old Toronto man Brian Way faces about two dozen charges of making, possessing, distributing, exporting and selling child pornography through his website, Azovfilms.com.
“Cybertip.ca…received numerous tips regarding Mr. Way’s website and forwarded them to us, assisting us in detecting his website,” said Inspector Joanna Beaven-Desjardins, commander of the Toronto police’s sex crimes unit.
The Canadian tip line is called Cybertip.ca and has been operating since Sept. 26, 2002. It’s operated by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, and was adopted under the federal government’s National Strategy for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation on the Internet in May 2004.
The site processes public tips—submitted online or by phone at 1-866-658-9022 —about material people believe is illegal or involves the potential online sexual exploitation of children.
Reports with information about a child victim or suspect are given priority, and the way the public classifies the report is confirmed or corrected based on the Criminal Code. A Cybertip analyst determines whether the material reported is illegal, and if so, reports are referred to police and/or child welfare agencies as appropriate.
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The site receives more than 2,000 reports and 75,000 page views each month, and acts as a way to lessen the burden on law enforcement agencies when tips are not illegal, don’t fall in their jurisdiction, or are merely educational.
Forty-five per cent of all reports have been forwarded to law enforcement and/or child welfare (with the remainder either not illegal or educational). Only 20 per cent of the reports forwarded to law enforcement stay in Canada.
The site says at least 132 arrests have been made in relation to Cybertip.ca reports, with the majority in Ontario. More than 62 children have been removed from abusive environments and more than 15,000 tips have been forwarded to other hotlines around the world.
The site also provides resources, support and referral services related to Internet safety for Canadian families. It receives funding from the federal government, provincial government partners and private sector sponsors.