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Cyberspace is home to more than one million images of tens of thousands of children being subjected to sexual abuse and exploitation. According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, the industry generates an estimated 50,000 new child sexual abuse images each year globally.
“In 2016 we commemorated 10 years of the Financial Coalition and celebrated a shining example of what a private-public partnership can accomplish. I am proud of the Financial Coalition’s work and how, alongside law enforcement, the Financial Coalition has been able to successfully disrupt the economics of the commercial child pornography industry and eradicate its profitability.” Dr. Franz B. Humer, Chair, International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children
Victims are young and images are violent. For example, of the 57,335 confirmed reports of child sexual abuse materials received in 2016 by the U.K.’s Internet Watch Foundation (IWF):
- 53% of victims were 10 years old or younger
- 2% of victims were 2 years of age or younger
- 28% depicted the rape or sexual torture of a child.
Further analysis of reports received by IWF showed that 21% of webpages confirmed to contain child sexual abuse materials were “commercial” in nature.
The reality is nearly unimaginable. The urgency of the situation cannot be ignored.
How Can a Company Take Action?
In addition to collaborating with industry partners, law enforcement and NGOs, a company can take action to protect its systems from those who seek to sexually abuse and exploit children.
As a first step, companies in the financial and technology sectors should ensure that their terms of service clearly state that a customer who trades or sells child sexual abuse material, or engages in other types of child sexual exploitation, will be removed from the service and reported to law enforcement whenever possible.
“The crime of DIGITAL CHILD EXPLOITATION & TRAFFICKING requires co-operation and close partnerships between Public/Private Organisations. Only through close commitment of resources, due diligence and the use of a robust legal framework can these partnerships work for the safety of children.” Colm Gannon, Former Senior Inspector, Digital Child Exploitation Team - Community Safety, New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs
Beyond terms of service, more and more countries are enacting legislation to address child sexual abuse material, which may provide grounds for a company to take action against a user. In 2018, ICMEC published the 9th edition of Child Sexual Abuse Material: Model Legislation & Global Review, a groundbreaking study of national legislation in 196 countries, which looks to see if national law:
- Generally outlaw child sexual abuse materials (CSAM);
- Define what “CSAM” is;
- Criminalize technology‐facilitated CSAM offenses;
- Ban possession of CSAM, regardless of the intent to distribute; and
- Require Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to report suspected CSAM to law enforcement or to some other agency.
Twelve years ago, the first edition of our report revealed a dismaying prospect: Only 27 countries had enacted legislation sufficient to combat child sexual abuse material offenses. Since then, the situation has improved. Our most recent report finds that 118 countries have in place legislation deemed sufficient to combat child sexual abuse material.
Additionally, a company may want to investigate banking and anti-money laundering laws in their country. These laws address the proceeds that result from crime and may prove to be an additional tool to help combat this illicit and repugnant trade.