Child Safety Online must be a priority

Published:  Fri 8 Jul 2022

13 organisations launch campaign to stop the spread of child sexual abuse material online

The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) is proud to launch the Child Safety Online Now (#ChildSafetyOnlineNow) campaign in partnership with 13 organisations dedicated to protecting children’s safety and rights online.

The campaign supports the European Commission’s proposal to tackle the rampant and growing spread of child sexual abuse online. In 2021, 85 million pieces of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) were reported online.[1] This is a growth of 35% from 2020.[2] The European Commission's proposal aims to make it mandatory for technology platforms to detect, report, and remove CSAM. This will have a huge impact in protecting children, preserving children’s privacy, and reducing the devastating harm this content has on survivors of child sexual abuse. The proposal also aims to establish an EU Centre that will be responsible for coordinating actions between online service providers and law enforcement agencies to end child sexual abuse online while also providing support to child victims of sexual abuse in the EU. A crucial element of the proposal asks online service providers to always report cases of grooming, a vital measure to prevent harm before it happens.

With the #ChildSafetyOnlineNow campaign, Missing Children Europe, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, ECPACT, Brave Movement, Canadian Centre for Child Protection, Internet Watch Foundation, NSPCC, End Violence Against Children, Thorn, 5 Rights Foundation, Terre des Hommes, WeProtect Global Alliance, Child Helpine International aim to raise awareness of the pressing need to protect children online and support the European Commission proposal to both prevent and combat child sexual abuse online. Children are spending more and more time online through all manner of devices and platforms; the proposal looks to protect children wherever they are so they can live, learn, and thrive in their digital worlds without the threat of online child sexual abuse. The campaign includes a hero video, website, and social media content. The website and social media content is available in EN, FR, IT, ES, DE & NL.

The Scale and Scope of the Challenge

  • 1 in 5 users of digital services in the EU is a child.[3]
  • 62% of all reported CSAM in 2021 was hosted in Europe.[4]
  • In 2021, the Internet Watch Foundation found child sexual abuse material online every two minutes.[5]
  • Public polling shows widespread public support (68%) for the use of technical tools to identify child sexual abuse material and for the European Union to introduce legislative change to help improve child safety.[6]

Susie Hargreaves OBE, IWF Chief Executive, said: “The IWF’s mission is to create an internet free from child sexual abuse that’s a safe place for children and adults to use around the world, but we cannot do this alone. We are proud to be part of this vital campaign supporting the European Commission’s necessary and timely proposal to tackle the insidious growth of child sexual abuse online. Technology platforms have a responsibility to safeguard their young users’ safety and privacy and the IWF has the world-class expertise and quality datasets to help companies detect, report and remove the spread of this illegal content.”

 

  1. European Commission, May 2022
  2. Guardian, March 2022
  3. 5Rights, The Digital Services Act must deliver for children, 2022
  4. IWF, Annual Report, 2021
  5. IWF, Annual Report 2021, 2021
  6. ECPAT, Project Beacon: What do EU Citizens think of the balance between online privacy and child protection?, 2021
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