Model Law

Child Pornography: Model Legislation & Global Review

In any country, the law is a powerful weapon in the fight against child pornography.*

We conduct extensive research into laws that exist around the world to better understand how countries deal with a problem of enormous magnitude and harm to children.

Since 2006, we have tallied the presence – and absence – of adequate anti-child pornography law in 196 countries. We have analyzed the strengths and shortcomings of the laws that do exist, and, based on the results of that intensive effort, we have developed model legislation that can be adopted and adapted as needed to be effective in any society or culture.

127countries have refined or implemented new anti-child pornography laws since 2006.

Our groundbreaking report, Child Pornography: Model Legislation & Global Review, first released in April 2006, is now in its 8th Edition. Our study of national legislation looks to see which countries:

  • Generally outlaw child pornography;
  • Define what “child pornography” is;
  • Criminalize computer‐facilitated offenses;
  • Ban possession of child pornography, regardless of the intent to distribute;
  • Require Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to report suspected child pornography to law enforcement or to some other agency; and
  • Require ISPs to develop and implement data retention and preservation provisions.
Press Conference Marking the Release of Child Pornography: Model Legislation & Global Review (April 2006)

In addition to a legislative review, the report offers a “menu of concepts” that countries can consider when drafting anti-child pornography legislation. Key topics covered include:

  • Definitions;
  • Offenses;
  • Mandatory Reporting;
  • Data Retention and Preservation; and
  • Sanctions and Sentencing.

Ten years ago, our first report revealed a dismaying prospect: Only 27 countries had enacted legislation sufficient to combat child pornography offenses. Since then, the situation has improved. Our most recent report, published in early 2016, finds that 82 countries have in place legislation deemed sufficient to combat child pornography.

35countries still have no anti-child pornography legislation.

However, a great deal of work remains to be done. 35 countries still do not have legislation that deals specifically with child pornography. Of the 79 countries that do have some legislation in place, 60 of them do not define child pornography specifically; 26 do not deal with computer-based offenses; 50 do not criminalize possession without regard to intent to distribute; and 79 have data retention legislation in place to ensure access by law enforcement to user data needed to investigate and prosecute online criminal activity.

Want to learn more? The 8th Edition of Child Pornography: Model Legislation & Global Review is currently available in English; the 7th Edition is available in ArabicRussian and Spanish; the 6th edition is available in French, Korean, Portuguese, and Thai.

*We refer to this heinous crime against children as “child pornography” because it is the expression most readily recognized by the public, and most commonly used in legislation. Globally, sexually exploitive images of child victims are increasingly referred to as “child abuse material.”