The Changing Face of Crime: The Internet and Child Pornography

Suzanne Wallace-Capretta, Department of Justice Canada

Technological advances in recent years have impacted significantly on the lives of Canadians. One example of these advances is the Internet, its accessibility and its use by the general public. Statistics Canada reports a steady increase in regular Internet use amongst Canadian families in recent years, 16% in 1997, 22.6% in 1998 and 28.7% in 1999. Widespread use of the Internet has resulted in both positive and negative impacts. The ease with which people can communicate globally whether it is for personal (e.g., money management, interacting with friends, learning about a variety of new topics, etc.) or business (e.g., advertising, communicating with customers, telework by employees, etc.) purposes demonstrates the positive effect of the Internet. However, there are also negative effects associated with the ubiquity of the Internet, for example its use in conducting illicit activities. One such usage involves the exchange of child pornography. A survey of Canadian police was conducted in order to examine the impact the Internet has had on the exchange of child pornography. The findings will be discussed in terms of number of investigations, search and seizures, charges and convictions related to the exchange of child pornography via the Internet and the challenges this presents.

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Updated 05/20/2006