The world is experiencing a crisis in its efforts to preserve the rights and the basic human dignity of its children. In 2020, the U.S. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) reported a 63% increase in reports of child sexual abuse material online in just the first 9 months of the year as compared to the year before, totaling over 18 million reports in 2020. Many of these reports involve international children. In addition, as a result of the global pandemic, there has been a dramatic increase in cases of Internet predatory behavior, online grooming, child sexual abuse material, and trafficking.
The work to protect children is now further threatened by recent European Union legislation that could prevent the use of technology to identify online child sexual abuse material.
Technology serves a critical role in identifying images and videos depicting illegal child sexual exploitation or abuse. Survivors of these atrocities deserve the dignity and justice of these images being removed from the Internet. But the use of this technology is in jeopardy because of recent European Union legislation. While an interim regulation has been proposed, it was not enacted prior to the date of implementation for the E-Privacy Directive. It is crucial that a long-term agreement be reached that prioritizes the safety of children.
ICMEC commends Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Roblox, and Yubo for stating their commitment to continue proactively identifying and removing child sexual abuse material online. We urge other technology companies to take a similar position and continue the vital work of protecting children.
You can help by adding your voice to the tens of thousands who have signed the petition to demand that the safety and dignity of children not be jeopardized: https://www.change.org/p/we-are-in-danger-of-losing-the-global-battle-for-child-safety