Last year I was invited to present at the Colloque Francopol sur la Cybercriminalité. Which I did. It was an awesome and unique experience. Not only because of the subject matter, but of course, for the networking that ensued from that event. Last year’s conference was held in Boucherville, much closer to home, so it was attended by over 300 people, I’d say. Most of them were police, and some were youth workers, government employees, and owners of businesses related to cyber crime. IBM was there as well, promoting a product that served as a visual identity tracker. This year, however, the conference was held out at the École National de Police in Nicolet, Quebec. It’s about a 2.5 hour drive from Montreal and can house only a limited number of people; which is why this year they could only accept up to 250 registrations. It was a great opportunity to network, once again, with people who attended my workshop as well as others whose workshops and talks I attended. A lot of interesting research is being done in Quebec about social networking sites as well as a phenomenon known, in French, as “cyberbanging” – gangs’ use of social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook and MySpace.
The most noteworthy part of the conference, really, is that people have travelled from distances as far as French Africa, Switzerland, Belgium, and France to be there. The main topic, really, I’d say, is to discuss new technologies and their use for tracking cyber crimes. However, other workshops explored the sociological and psychological nature of Web 2.0 technologies and the ethnography of children and youth who are using such technologies. I found the conference very enlightening and love the fact that Quebec is pioneering such an important conference on such important subjects. It is Cyber Security Awareness month right now, so the conference is perfectly placed, time-wise. It is also the international month against bullying. No matter how you look at it, the topics are quite timely, and not only relevant to police, but obviously those working in cyber fraud, cyber security, and other psychological fields – such as aiding victims of online abuse. Of course, the most important part of the conference, for me, is that so many people are serving to help and keep children and youth safe from cyber predators, and care for them in times of need – for instance – if they have been targets of cyberbullying. The general sense I get is that most people that I spoke to, whether parents, educators, youth workers, counsellors, lawyers, police, or cybersecurity professionals, really feel the need to globally address these problems, and that many different stakeholders must take part in not only the educational, legislative aspects of such issues, but the psychological help required for its targets. We are slowly on our way to addressing such problems as a whole society. It takes a village to raise a child – and a consciousness about this is developing – or will eventually develop – I hope.
Here are some of my pictures from the conference. Enjoy!