Mr. Chair, honourable members of Parliament, and ladies and gentlemen, thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak with you today. I'm here to discuss the online abuse of children in the developing world.
My name is Paul Gillespie. I'm the president of the Kids' Internet Safety Alliance, KINSA, a registered Canadian charity that empowers developing nations to rescue children from sexual abuse. Previously, I was the officer in charge of the child exploitation unit for the Toronto Police Service for many years, and I'm still a member of the Interpol specialist group on crimes against children.
At a time when governments all around the world struggle financially, people of all political stripes recognize the need to spend public money with extra care. If one were to suggest that Canadian taxpayers fund safety patrols on the roads of Peru or Poland, folks here at home would object, and with good reason. Routine highway safety is not a proper target for foreign aid dollars. But if we move from safety in the physical world to safety in the cyberworld, the thinking must change accordingly.
Global law enforcement investigations reveal that millions of computers worldwide are actively trading in the most explicit images and movies of child pornography, including 200,000 right here in Canada. It is clear that hundreds of thousands of children are risk. The numbers are staggering and the risks are grave. Children will be sexually groomed or abused online and suffer daily with the stark reality that images of their sexual abuse are being traded online around the globe.
Bringing online child sex predators to justice is therefore a top priority of law enforcement. Certainly we must educate parents—and children too—about the dangers of online child abuse, but all the education in the world will not take away the inherent vulnerability of children. The problem of Internet child abuse will not go away without bringing to justice those who sustain the market for child pornography.
Thus, the central question to be asked is, how can police hunt these predators most effectively? Perhaps surprisingly, it means doing what would be objectionable in the physical world, paying to put trained cybercops on the online information highways in other countries. Why is this so?
Starting with the now trite observation that Internet activity of all kinds is borderless, every cybercop will tell you that online child sexual predators join online communities and trade images and movies of child pornography—almost five million of them—with like-minded people all around the world. Every online predator is simply one member of a global predator community. Consequently, every Internet child exploitation investigation, no matter where it begins, will yield solid leads about predators in other countries.
If we want to make the world's children as safe as possible online, we need to make sure countries around the world have highly trained cybercops on the electronic beat, because it is inevitable that if we train them, cyber investigators from Brazil to Botswana to Belarus will tell us more about what predators in Canada, Colombia, and China are up to.
Training cybercops from other countries puts more patrol officers in the very same Internet neighbourhoods that Canadian kids play in. This is wise foreign aid to developing countries that lack the capacity to conduct sophisticated online investigations. At the same time, it is local policing that helps Canadian kids.
In other words, foreign and domestic policy gains can be achieved simultaneously, and it is remarkably cost-effective. In Canada, it costs about $150,000 a year in salary and benefits to pay a police officer to be a cyber-police officer. On the other hand, KINSA regularly delivers world-class training to foreign cybercops for about $2,000 per officer. In both cases, the net result is one more officer protecting children everywhere. Hire one or train 75; the math is simple and compelling.
But even though the economics make perfect sense, this issue is not and cannot be just about money. Countries like Canada, with world-leading cyber-investigative expertise, should support the training of cybercops in less developed countries, because it shows global leadership. Most important, it is the right thing to do for kids everywhere, including those here at home.
KINSA works with global law enforcement and other partners to deliver training and build capacity in developing nations to rescue children from harm. Our vision is to set all children free from online exploitation. KINSA is a member of the Virtual Global Taskforce. KINSA works with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police under a memorandum of understanding. KINSA training is accredited by the Canadian Police College. KINSA has been named as a trusted training partner by the Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Cooperation Organisation, representing 16 countries, and the Eastern Africa Police Chiefs Cooperation Organization, representing 12 countries.
KINSA is highly respected by Interpol and law enforcement agencies around the world. KINSA delivers best-in-class, targeted, highly effective training to law enforcement agencies utilizing best practices from global leaders who deliver the training. The RCMP, United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Norwegian national police, Queensland Police Service in Australia, Newcastle University, the Ministry of the Attorney General of Ontario, and the Interpol Specialists Group on Crimes against Children are just some of the organizations that provide trainers to deliver the training we do.
Since 2006 KINSA has delivered Internet exploitation investigative training to 386 police officers and prosecutors in 26 countries. Our graduates have gone on to identify and rescue 85 children worldwide and delivered Internet safety presentations to 10,000 police officers and 20,000 citizens worldwide.
I would like to tell you now about some of the tremendous results that KINSA training has achieved.
Romanian national police, in 2007 KINSA delivered a general Internet child exploitation investigators' training course to police officers from the cybercrime unit of the Romanian national police. Based on our training, the national police officers created a specialized unit to tackle Internet child pornography investigations. Almost every one of the officers we trained at that time has now been promoted, and they are assigned to be in charge of cybercrime units around the country. The Romanian national police are now valued contributors to the Interpol Specialists Group on Crimes against Children; and they played a significant role in the very recent Canadian Project Spade, which was a global investigation rescuing almost 400 children around the world, many of whom were shown on a Romanian website being abused.
Brazilian federal police, in 2008 KINSA delivered training to members of the Brazilian federal police. During the training these officers were made aware of and told how to join the Interpol Specialists Group on Crimes against Children. During this training presented by investigators they were shown a case study involving horrific images of abuse occurring somewhere between New Brunswick and Maine. The case had stalled. One of the Brazilian officers in the training program revealed the fact that their police force had 400,000 categorized images of child pornography that the rest of the world knew nothing about. When the officer returned to Brazil, he searched their database and found that many images of the series being investigated in North America were sitting on the computer of a Brazilian suspect. He added those pictures to the investigation, and it allowed the RCMP to identify the home of the offender who was living in Tracyville, New Brunswick. He was then convicted of abusing 10 Canadian children.
South African Police Service, since 2009 KINSA has delivered training to 260 South African Police Service officers and national authority's prosecutors. A significant part of our efforts in Africa has been to work with the police service to develop and deploy a national strategy dealing with Internet crimes against children. In 2012, while KINSA was delivering training to the police officers and prosecutors, we coordinated efforts with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to ensure that all information regarding South African Project Spade suspects—again, that was a large Canadian project that identified offenders around the world—would be delivered to the police service when we were delivering the training, so that one of our trainers from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police could explain the case and work with those officers to develop a strategy.
The SAPS then formed a provincial unit, which was part of their new national strategy that we worked on with them, and over the next 14 months conducted a very thorough investigation on the dozens of Project Spade suspects living in South Africa. In August of 2013 the South African Police Service executed dozens of search warrants and to date have arrested and charged eight men, with many more to be arrested, including three teachers, and have identified and rescued five children.
I'm proud to report that in April of 2014, just over a month ago, we graduated our first class of advanced ICE trainers from the South African Police Service and the National Prosecuting Authority, who are now qualified to deliver Internet child exploitation training. They were given all the material needed to do so and they will continue to get KINSA support.
Uganda national police, in August of 2013 KINSA delivered training in Nairobi, Kenya, to police officers from 10 East African countries. Prior to the training, Facebook provided us with information asking for help to alert Ugandan authorities to a dangerous situation involving a Ugandan adult male who was actively targeting and exploiting teen and preteen girls living in Australia.
KINSA trainers on the course from the RCMP and U.S. Immigration gathered all appropriate information about the case and referred it to the Ugandan officers on the course. The trainers worked with the officers to fully understand the case and to develop an investigative strategy so that when they returned to Uganda they could do something about it.
Upon returning to Uganda the investigators put their newly obtained knowledge to work and initiated an investigation. They executed a search warrant, seized a computer, and then, working closely with our other partners from the Australian federal police, who provided computer forensic support to them and then investigative support in Australia, they found the evidence they needed. As a result of the investigation the suspect was arrested, and many teen and preteen female victims were identified, mainly in Australia, and the offender is currently facing multiple charges of exploiting children in Uganda.
What's going to happen in the future? KINSA will deliver regional training to 1,000 police officers and prosecutors in East Africa over the next five years. This training, in conjunction with the Eastern Africa Police Chiefs Cooperation Organization, will begin October 2014 in Tanzania, and 100 of these officers will be trained as trainers.
KINSA will work with each African country that requests our help to develop and deploy a national strategy dealing with Internet crimes against children. KINSA-trained countries will have police officers and prosecutors who are trained in the latest cybercrime techniques, which very importantly can be used across all types of crimes. They are also going to be enabled to be linked to work with worldwide law enforcement agencies and other partners that are actively involved in the same investigations.
Finally, some may ask, why Africa? Africa has seen a wave of increased Internet connectivity in recent years powered by the wide availability of mobile technology and the emergence of new approaches to rural access such as something called white space wireless. White spaces are unused channels in the broadcast TV spectrum.
Along with great social and economic benefits, this increased access is also empowering criminals in new ways. As soon as child sex offenders get online they can quickly find a welcoming community of like-minded criminals to share the latest technologies, facilitate abuse, and evade police.
Africa's police services are generally not so lucky. Many agencies are only beginning the process of looking beyond the physical world's policing technology requirements and are faced with the prospect of starting from scratch, while local criminals are using the developed world's latest technologies.
Significant benefits will accrue from the presence of KINSA in Africa including a highly skilled technical workforce to protect vulnerable children worldwide, and isn't that why we're all here?