Combatting Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Material in the Digital Age
Webinar No. 4
Child Law International Alliance (CLIA)
In association with
Beijing Children’s Legal Aid and Research Center (BCLARC)
3rd February 2021
9:00 CET/ 16:00 GMT +8
or visit: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJwqceyurTwiG9dJPbn9WOqLFFUcYhT1hCYo
Child sexual exploitation and abuse material (CSEAM) victimizes children, trampling their health, rights, and dignity. With the perpetual circulation of those materials, some children can endure lifelong threats and harm. Digitalization of CSEAM facilitates its production and spread, making the tracing even more difficult. With the Internet, a pervasive online market of CSEAM can be just a click away. This illegal industry, further commercialized and internationalized in the online environment, attracts more perpetrators and wields greater detrimental influence on children.
While the past decades have observed increasing efforts combatting CSEAM, huge challenges still exist. First, there exist divergent opinions about the constitutive elements of CSEAM and related offences, which increases the difficulty in identifying and classifying CSEAM. Therefore, in some countries, the offences related to CSEAM have not been fully criminalized. Moreover, in many national and international legal documents, CSEAM is referred to as “child pornography”. But the use of this term should be discouraged, as it risks diminishing the severity of sexual abuse and exploitation of children.
Second, since online CSEAM can easily transcend any geographic or physical limits, the measure to combat it must also be transborder. There have been transnational and cross-industry mechanisms to coordinate the identification, reporting, referral, and investigation of CSEAM. Nevertheless, a truly global protection network has not been built up. Countries with relatively little experience are encouraged to seek inspiration from and cooperate with existing mechanisms.
Last but not least, protecting children from online CSEAM needs more actions by all actors. Among them, the role of the information technology industry is worthy of further discussion. On the one hand, the legal obligations of the information technology industry, particularly the Internet service providers, must be clearly provided. On the other hand, legal requirements are merely a bottom line. The information technology industry can act proactively to develop self-disciplinary standards and apply built-in protection measures.
An in-depth discussion of online CSEAM is of special significance amidst the pandemic. As children’s lives move increasingly online during lockdowns, they are exposed to higher risks of harm. According to Interpol, reporting of online CSEAM offences and relevant activities have increased during the COVID-19 Pandemic. In addition, the restrictive measures can slow down the reporting and handling of CSEAM cases. Governments, information technology industry, schools, parents, and other actors must take actions to mitigate the new threats.
The CLIA and BLARC decide to devote the fourth session in the Joint Webinar Series to the discussion of CSEAM in the digital era. With special attention paid to the online environment and COVID-19 Pandemic, this session aims to share and explore the effective measures to halt the scourge of CSEAM.
- Reflect the current legislations, on both the national and international levels, and further the understanding of the constituent elements and forms of CSEAM.
- Highlight the deficiency of law enforcement and raise awareness about the significance of international cooperation.
- Highlight the role of stakeholders in different industries, including but not limited to Internet service providers and financial entities.
- Share good practices of combatting transnational crimes involving CSEAM.
- Explore coordinative mechanisms for combatting CSEAM.
- Raise recommendations for law enforcement and, particularly, provide suggestions for the information technology industry to address the CSEAM problems and the increasing challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.