The ISPCC has welcomed the publication of the Hotline.ie 2019 Annual Report and urged industry to sign up to a new code designed to better protect children online through the removal of Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM).
The charity which provides the Childline suite of services to children and young people in Ireland has called for action on foot of findings of the Hotline.ie report – which include that last year saw a 79 per cent increase in reports classified as CSAM.
The Hotline.ie service facilitates the public to anonymously report online content, which they suspect to be illegal, in a secure and confidential way.
Additional findings of the organisation’s 2019 Annual Report identified that:
- 1 in 4 reports led to CSAM
- 83 per cent of CSAM reports showed children estimated to be aged 4 – 12 years
The Hotline.ie Code of Practice details good practice for combatting child sexual abuse and sexual exploitation, outlines a framework for stakeholder collaboration, sets out minimum requirements for participating companies and details notice and takedown procedure, roles and responsibilities.
Along with Hotline.ie, the ISPCC is a member of the Safer Internet Centre consortium of organisations from education, child welfare, government and industry sectors, which provide internet safety awareness, helpline and hotline service functions.
ISPCC Chief Executive John Church said: “Children and young people who contact Childline tell us about how they feel there are many good things online for people of their age, but that they can be exposed to potential dangers also. Children and young people deserve our very best efforts in ensuring that the internet is a safe and respectful space for them. We all have a role to play in making this possible.
“Lest we forget, each piece of CSAM is that of a real child who has suffered the most egregious abuse and who continues to be re-victimised as images and recording of this abuse exists online. The potential for content published online to reach large audiences very quickly and be re-shared further compounds the abuse which has been suffered.
“The issue of self-generated imagery which may be shared by young people in good faith – and end up in locations which could scarcely have been imagined – is another considerable concern. Unfortunately, it has been evidenced how these images can be subsequently manipulated and misused in the creation of CSAM.
“The ISPCC commends the work of Hotline.ie, which is a vital component to combat CSAM online. We echo the sentiment outlined in the organisation’s 2019 Annual Report which highlights that ‘child protection and online safety is a matter of public interest and policy where cybercrime, legislation, corporate social responsibility, as well as civic responsibility, intersect’.
“We urge industry and all stakeholders to work to safeguard children and young people at a time when individuals of all ages around the world are increasingly engaging online. Children and young people have a right to be safe – and this right pertains to the online world, just as it does to life offline.”