Model Law

Child Sexual Abuse Material: Model Legislation & Global Review

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

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.

150countries have refined or implemented new anti-CSAM laws since 2006.

Since 2006, we have tallied the presence – and absence – of adequate anti-child sexual abuse material (CSAM) 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.

Our groundbreaking report, Child Sexual Abuse Material: Model Legislation & Global Review (formerly Child Pornography: Model Legislation & Global Review), first released in April 2006, is now in its 9th Edition. Our study of national legislation looks to see which countries:

  • Generally outlaw 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.
Press Conference Marking the Release of the 1st Edition (April 2006)

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

  • Definitions;
  • Offenses;
  • Mandatory Reporting;
  • Industry Responsibility;
  • Sanctions and Sentencing; and
  • Law Enforcement Investigations and Data Retention.

Twelve 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 December 2018, finds that 118 countries have in place legislation deemed sufficient to combat child pornography.

16countries still have no anti-CSAM legislation.

However, more work remains to be done. 16 countries still do not have legislation that deals specifically with CSAM. Of the 62 countries that do have some legislation in place, 51 of them do not define CSAM specifically; 25 do not deal with technology-based offenses; and 38 do not criminalize possession without regard to intent to distribute.

Want to learn more? The 9th Edition Child Sexual Abuse Material: Model Legislation & Global Review is currently available in English (Spanish coming soon); the 8th Edition is available in English and Spanish; the 7th Edition is available in ArabicRussian and Spanish; and the 6th edition is available in French, Korean, Portuguese, and Thai.

*While the term “child pornography” is often still utilized in national legislation, in line with recent global movement and international consensus, the term has been replaced in the 9th Edition with the term “child sexual abuse material” as it more aptly describes the true nature and extent of sexually exploitive images of child victims to which children can never consent.