Arachnid Crawls Web for Victims

By Ron Fanfair, Toronto Police Service Published: 3:51 p.m. January 18, 2017
Updated: 10:08 a.m. January 19, 2017

The Canadian Centre for Child Protection (C3P) has unveiled new technology that will help victims recover from child sexual abuse.

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Project Arachnid software crawls the internet searching for illegal child exploitation images

Project Arachnid is an automated system that reviews websites previously reported to Cybertip.ca as having child exploitation images. If illegal material is detected, a notice is sent to the site provider indicating its presence. Cybertip.ca is a place where anyone can leave a tip about child exploitation that will be forwarded to police investigators and support victims of the heinous crime.

Over the years, Toronto Police officers have worked with the Winnipeg-based centre to distribute educational material on self-peer exploitation, also known as sexting, which is a growing concern for parents, school personnel and law enforcement in Canada.

Sex Crimes Detective Paul Krawczyk said Arachnid is a great tool for victims.

“The whole idea is to automatically report back and rid these locations of hosting these images,” he said. “Imagine sending out a little army across the internet and having them report back that they found bad guys there and they are being able to eradicate them. That is what this is about.”

The goal is to give victims some psychological relief that images of them are being removed from the World Wide Web.

Over the six-week web crawl byProject Arachnid, over 230 million web pages were processed, detecting 5.1 million web pages hosting 40,000 unique child sexual abuse images.

“This is a tool that will enhance the great work that the CCCP is already doing. Imagine you are a victim and you know that your picture is out there. Something like this crawler will try to find those images. If I was a victim, knowing that something is working behind the scene to eradicate as much as this stuff as possible would be comforting to me,” Krawczyk said.

In a survey of 128 survivors of child sexual abuse from around the world by C3P, 73% of the survivors worry about being recognized by someone because of the recording of their abuse.


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