A web-crawling software will be used in New Zealand with the aim of detecting and removing child sex abuse material.

The New Zealand Classification Office has joined a one-year pilot in collaboration with Canada’s Project Arachnid, which searches for and identifies child sex abuse material online.

Published in Stuff

Chief Censor David Shanks said the worldwide scope of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection‘s project meant New Zealanders could benefit from increased data and reporting on the material while contributing to a leading global initiative.

Project Arachnid uses web-crawling software which systematically browses the internet to detect child sexual abuse images and videos on both the open and dark web. It then issues takedown notices to hosting providers.

The software detects and processes tens of thousands of images per second.

Shanks said the amount of child sex abuse material continued to grow, and the online nature of the content meant there needed to be a global approach to collectively combat it.

“This collaboration recognises that the horrific crimes involving child sex abuse material do not respect national borders and the challenge to combat this is a global one.”

The Chief Censor said the pilot should improve the situation both in New Zealand and globally.

During the one-year pilot, classification advisors will spend several hours each month working through and confirming suspected material.

“We will be joining a queue of analysts from around the world which the project can draw on and assign tasks to,” Shanks said.

CCCP executive director Lianna McDonald said the “global epidemic” of child sex abuse required a global response.

“Survivors and children need us to come together and fight to get this horrific content, showing the worst moments of their lives, off the internet and out of the reach of offenders.”

The Canadian charity introduced Project Arachnid in 2016 with the aim of reducing the availability of child sexual abuse and videos globally.

Earlier this year, Murray Pengelly and Colin Bradley, were jailed for possessing a slew of serious child sex abuse, sadism and bestiality material.

At the pair’s sentencing in Manukau District Court, Judge Tini Clark said the pair contributed to the revictimisation of children every time their abuse was viewed on the internet.

The child would carry the burder for the rest of their life, Judge Clark said.

The defendants fuelled an international demand for such imagery, she said.

Where to get help

Crimestoppers 0800 555 111

​Netsafe 0508 NETSAFE (0508 638 723)

The Light Project

Lifeline (open 24/7) – 0800 543 354

Suicide Crisis Helpline (open 24/7) – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.

Youthline (open 24/7) – 0800 376 633. You can also text 234.

By Catrin Owen
Published in Stuff
22 Sept 2021