Manitoba pledges to boost online privacy on International Day of the Girl

WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government pledged to improve the cyber security of young women to mark the International Day of the Girl.

“Now more than ever, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the need for online connectivity, and young women are most at risk of cyber violence,” said Manitoba Sport, Culture and Heritage Minister Cathy Cox in a news release on Sunday.

The province is giving USB data blockers to girls in middle and high schools across Manitoba.

“When charging a mobile device in a public space, the adaptors plug into the charging cord and protect the user’s data from hackers who use malware to steal photos, usernames and passwords,” said the release.

The USB data blockers will also be handed out at women’s resource centres, friendship centres and shelters during the month of October.

The United Nations declared Oct. 11 International Day of the Girl in 2012 to promote women’s rights and highlight gender inequality around the world.

Since the pandemic began police have warned parents about a rise in online child exploitation, which disproportionately affects girls and young women. 

“The correlation or the assumption that could be made here is that people are at home more, they are online more – that’s not only victims, but also perpetrators that are looking for young victims so that they can take advantage of them,” Sgt. Stephen Rear, of the Manitoba RCMP Internet Child Exploitation Unit, told CTV back in July.

In Sunday’s release, Cox said the RCMP saw a 20 per cent jump in the number of new child exploitation investigations between March and mid-July, compared to the same period last year.

CTV News has reached out for comment from the NDP and will update this story. 

   

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