The US now hosts more child sexual abuse material online than any other country

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Lloyd Richardson, director of technology at the Canadian Center for Child Protection, says there is no greater punishment for platforms that fail to quickly remove CSAM than “bad press”. “I think you will be strongly pressured to find a country that has been penalized by an electronic service provider for slowing or non-removal of CSAM,” he says.

The incidence of CSAM increased dramatically worldwide during the epidemic as both children and hunters spent more time online than ever before. Child protection experts, including the global network of anti-trafficking organizations Thorne and the INHOPE, 50 CSAM hotline, predict that the problem will only get worse.

So what can be done to combat it? The Netherlands can provide some directions. The country still has a significant CSAM problem, partly due to its national infrastructure, its geographical location and its position as a hub for global Internet traffic. However, it has managed to make some big progress. It is hosting 41% of the global CSAM at the end of 2021, up from 13% by the end of March 2022, according to the IWF.

Much of this progress can be traced back to the fact that when the new government came to power in the Netherlands in 2017, it gave priority to tackling CSAM. In 2020 it published a report naming Internet hosting providers and was ashamed of those who failed to remove such content within 24 hours of being warned about its presence.

At least in the short term it was found to work. The Dutch CSAM hotline EOKM found that providers were more willing to take steps such as removing content and committing to remove CSAM within 24 hours of its discovery, following the publication of the list.

However, EOKM chief executive Arda Garkens believes that instead of tackling the problem, the Netherlands has moved it elsewhere. “She looks like a successful model, because the Netherlands has cleared. But she’s not gone – she’s moved. And that worries me,” she says.

Child protection experts argue that the solution will come in the form of legislation. Congress is currently considering a new law called the EARN IT (Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies) Act, which would sue services for hosting CSAM on their networks and may force service providers to scan user data for such content.

Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online. Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online. John Sheehan of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children says the other side of the argument is that tech companies are currently prioritizing the privacy of CSAM distributors on their platforms and the safety of victims.

Even if legislators fail to pass the EARN IT Act, the next law in the UK promises to hold tech platforms accountable for illegal content, including CSAM. Tech giants could face billions of dollars in fines due to the UK’s Online Safety Bill and Europe’s Digital Services Act if they fail to adequately deal with illegal content when the law is enforced.

The new rules will apply to social media networks, search engines and video platforms operating in the UK or Europe, meaning US-based companies such as Facebook, Apple and Google will have to comply to continue. Operates in the UK. “There’s a lot of global movement around this,” says Sheehan. “It will have a ripple effect around the world.”

“I don’t think we have to legislate,” says Farid. “But we have been waiting for 20 years to find a moral compass for them. And this is the last resort. ”

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