A collaborative approach to fighting child sexual abuse material

Combatting online child sexual abuse material (CSAM) is an ongoing battle with increasing numbers of invested stakeholders collaborating to do everything possible to keep the internet free of such content. INHOPE (the International Association of Internet Hotlines) hosted a panel discussion during the recent European Commission funded Safer Internet Forum (SIF) to discuss collaboration, bringing in different perspectives from some of the actors who have taken up the fight. The key message that resonated strongly among the panellists was collaboration.

Oscar Pettersson from Netclean stated, "We want to highlight the importance of three main areas; technology, knowledge and the importance of collaboration, and that every image counts to be able to detect material and rescue children."

Hedwig de Jager from INTERPOL seconded his comment and added, "We work with INHOPE via the ICCAM system and receive reports from hotlines. Sometimes the material is known, sometimes the material is new. We need to find new material as offenders keep developing and advancing (technologically) and we have to stay on top on this to prevent an increase in offences." INHOPE's ICCAM system allows for sharing of reports on a secure platform across hotlines as well as providing information to INTERPOL on the reported CSAM.

Fred Langford from the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) highlighted the importance of proactive search to find new and previously seen material, "There are an increasing number of people coming online and although we haven't achieved global penetration, we are getting better at finding CSAM."

In addressing the urgent need to unearth previously unseen content, a comment from the audience suggested carrying out proactive searches by non-profit organisations and private companies to assist law enforcement. On this, Hedwig de Jager cautioned, "Who would provide the appropriate permissions for these bodies to carry out this task? Additionally, we should also be careful while asking stakeholders other than law enforcement to engage in this activity. All organisations should be screened and also monitored regularly."

To conclude the session, all panellists were asked for their priority area of focus: the IWF highlighted the importance of finding content and cleaning the internet of this material, while NetClean's focus was on strengthening and improving collaboration and processes among stakeholders as well as facilitating detection and reporting of CSAM for the business sector. Professor Ernesto Caffo from Telefono Azzurro stated that research on a global level is vital in order to spread awareness on different levels and to find new solutions to the problems, also by encouraging children to play an active role. Hedwig de Jager said that identifying victims was critical, in addition to removing content from the internet.

While each of the panellists had a different focus area, all agreed that the ultimate goal was to combat online CSAM together.

For further information, see the SIF page and the report on the outcomes of Safer Internet Forum 2017.

For further information on the work of INHOPE, see the INHOPE website.

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