Action needed to curb sexploitation



The growing need to govern the content provided by social media companies has hit a Pilot Mound family devastatingly. Daniel Lints, 17, committed suicide after being blackmailed.

Global sextortion targets teens

Derek Lints wipes away tears as he talks about his 17-year-old son Daniel at his home in Pilot Mound, Man., on Wednesday. Daniel Lints was sexually exploited online in February and committed suicide as a result. “/>
JOHN WOODS/THE CANADIAN PRESS Derek Lints wipes away tears as he talks about his son Daniel, 17, at his home in Pilot Mound, Man., on Wednesday. Daniel Lints was sexually exploited online in February and committed suicide as a result.

Job : 10:23 am 19 June 2022

PILOT MOUND, Man. – Daniel Lints was kind and responsible with a witty sense of humor. The rural Manitoba teenager had a bright future and a loving family. He played hockey and constantly visited the nearby community pool.

He was a normal, happy 17-year-old until one cold February day he accepted a message request from what appeared to be an attractive young woman on Snapchat.

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The Lints family is sharing Daniel’s story to alert the public to a burgeoning global program targeting teens. The exploitation began when Daniel accepted a message request on Snapchat from what appeared to be a young woman who then asked him to send an explicit image of himself. This set the trap, and within minutes Daniel was told that his private image would be shared with his family and friends unless he paid more money than he had.

The whole situation – from first contact to Daniel’s decision that he couldn’t live with the imagined shame that his intimate image was widely seen – happened in just three hours.

Tragically, this dastardly ploy has been attempted more than ever in the past two years as pandemic restrictions on in-person activities have forced more people to resort to online relationships. The RCMP Child Exploitation Center recorded 52,306 complaints for the 2020-2021 year, a 510% increase from seven years earlier.

The misuse of explicit images for criminal purposes is nothing new, but this sordid new twist appears to be targeting young men. The bait is a convincing image of a young woman to initiate a fake relationship online and request an intimate photo of the victim, taking advantage of the immature impulsiveness that is a developmental stage for some teenagers.




<p>JOHN WOODS / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES</p>
<p>Jill and Derek Lints hold a photo of their son Daniel.</p>
<p>” width=”1412″ height=”2048″  data-srcset=”https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/400*400/NEP511933_web_JGW124_2022061915-CPT637912337570838268.jpg 400w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/600 *600/NEP511933_web_JGW124_2022061915-CPT637912337570838268.jpg 600w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/700*700/NEP511933_web_JGW124_2022061915-CPT63791233767083>70w”70w”<figcaption>
<p>JOHN WOODS / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES</p>
<p>Jill and Derek Lints hold a photo of their son Daniel.</p>
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<p>Sextortion’s legacy of ruined reputations, and even lost young lives in some cases, has prompted governments to frequently ask governments to force Big Tech companies to monitor online content more diligently, but that’s not not a simple question.  Countries developing regulations, including Australia and New Zealand, are concerned about the government’s suppression of citizens’ freedom of expression and right to privacy.			</p>
<p>The European Union recently launched a legal initiative to force social media companies to remove the dark side of their online content, which would include sextortion, hate speech and misinformation.  A law passed in April gives regulators the power to hit companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon with billions in fines.			</p>
<p>A problem with such an application is that the online technology operates on a global basis.  While 27 countries have signed up to the EU’s digital rules, predatory online operators can easily operate in countries with little or no moderation and, on the other side of the planet, exploit naïve youngsters in places as farther than Pilot Mound.			</p>
<p>Issues related to online content surveillance were discussed recently in an online forum at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights moderated by Taylor Owen, an associate professor at McGill University in Montreal and an expert in digital media ethics.			</p>
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While 27 countries have joined the EU’s digital rules, predatory online operators can easily operate in countries with little or no restraint.

He urged Canadians to demand, through our laws, much more transparency in the operation of big tech companies, in the same way that pharmaceutical companies must show their data when developing drugs.

Mr Owen is one of 12 members of an online safety advisory council recently formed by the Canadian government to create a regulatory framework to tackle harmful content online.

To underscore the urgent need for such regulation, council members should be reminded that, even if they deliberate, Canadian teens will continue to receive misleading invitations attached to what appear to be photos of attractive peers, but who are actually the bait used by fraudsters for the sole purpose of exploitation. There must be a required urgency in the council’s efforts.

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