Stakeholders must unite in eliminating child sexual abuse material online

The Better Internet for Kids (BIK) portal is designed as a multistakeholder platform, where we welcome the contributions of many in promoting the overall aims of creating and safer and better online environment for children and young people. We were delighted, therefore, to receive this article from MEP Emma McClarkin on the occasion of Safer Internet Day (SID) 2017, in which she outlines the global response needed to tackle the issues of child sexual abuse imagery online.

"Safer Internet Day is an important day in my calendar. It provides us a great opportunity for politicians, organisations and the public as a whole, to raise awareness about how we can best eliminate child sexual abuse imagery online. What has become a global problem needs a global response.

"The internet has evolved in the past two decades and now social media is prevalent through all ages of society, in particular with our young people. While this has given individuals across each continent the opportunities to quickly and easily socialise with friends and to access and share information from all across the world, it has also created a platform for serious crimes that the European Union and the international community must stand united in tackling.

"While the United Kingdom and EU Member States have gone to great lengths to ensure that child sexual abuse material (CSAM) in their territory is removed as quickly as possible and that there are barriers to block those who seek to access this content, more still needs to be done.

"The upcoming European Commission report looking at combatting the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography will ensure that the European Union keeps this firmly on the agenda. As Shadow for the Culture and Education Committee opinion to this report, I will be working to ensure that the United Kingdom and other Member States are able to continue to work with organisations such as the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) (part of the UK Safer Internet Centre) in order to share best practices on how to tackle this problem.

"It is this cooperation that represents the best tool in the fight against this ever-changing crime that operates beyond all national borders. It is important that we use this report to acknowledge what Member States are doing correctly, and what can be better supported to ensure that the UK and the European Union has a coordinated and organised response.

"This cooperation also needs to be reflected at a global level and all countries need to understand and appreciate that this is indeed a global issue.  We need to show the criminals that seek to create and share this content that there are no safe havens or loopholes for them to use. Our governments, our internet industry, charitable organisations, and the public all working tirelessly together will send the biggest statement that we are united against them.

"The campaign to protect our children online is one that is of the utmost importance to me and I will continue to work as hard as I can in the European Parliament to ensure that we recognise this is a priority and that we must work collaboratively together to tackle it and protect our children."

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Better Internet for Kids Portal, European Schoolnet, the European Commission or any related organisations or parties.

About the author:

Emma McClarkin, MEP

Emma McClarkin is an MEP for the East Midlands region in the UK and was first elected in 2009, making this her second term. She was appointed as the European Conservatives and Reformists Group Coordinator for the International Trade Committee in 2014, meaning that she is the lead MEP in the Group on Trade matters. She also sits as a substitute member in the Culture and Education Committee and the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee. She is also a full member of the EU delegation to the US.

Emma has campaigned on raising awareness of the growing use of the internet and new technology to commit crime, including the exploitation of children online. She has held a number of successful awareness-raising events, including an event with Maria Miller MP, at that time Secretary of State for Culture, at Conservative Party Conference 2013. In 2017, Emma will start work on the Culture and Education opinion to the report looking at combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography.

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