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Artificial intelligence needed to fight child prostitution, Quebec committee told


August 25, 2020
By The Canadian Press

QUEBEC — The fight against child exploitation requires massive investments in artificial intelligence, a Quebec legislative committee created to investigate child prostitution heard Monday.

Paul Laurier, a former police officer and president of cybersecurity company Vigiteck, told committee members a computer program that uses AI could reduce the length of an investigation by 1,000 hours. The programs, or “robots” as he called them, can use facial recognition technology to trace images of teenagers trafficked online.

AI can detect faces, tattoos and jewelry from photos in a “particular efficient way,” Laurier said, adding the technology is rapidly improving.

Liberal committee member Kathleen Weil told reporters Monday that to better follow, monitor and understand the way children are trafficked and advertised online, “it’s going to take a lot of resources.”

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Laurier said criminals are using websites such as YouTube, Airbnb, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to publish advertisements selling sexual services with children. Massage parlours, he said, are recruiting young people directly online.

In June 2019, the Quebec government announced the creation of the all-party committee on child sexual exploitation to better understand the situation in the province and gave it 18 months to produce a report.

This report was first published by the Canadian Press on Aug. 24, 2020.

The Canadian Press Enterprises Inc., 2020