Hotlines, People, and Tech: United against Child Sexual Abuse Material
Red, amber, and green traffic lights tell us when to stop, go, or slow down. Only together can they keep us safe on the roads. The same is true for hotlines, people, and technology. Together they respond to reports of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) online and keep the public safe.
The importance of local hotlines
When a member of the public finds CSAM online, hotlines are there to help them. By reporting the URL to their national hotline, the person can trust that the content will be dealt with.
The INHOPE network includes 46 hotlines in 42 countries. Having hotlines on the ground in the countries they serve means:
- Reporting is done in the local language
- CSAM is assessed by local experts, familiar with the laws and customs of the region
- Local stakeholders can collaborate e.g. national law enforcement and hosting providers
- Awareness raising campaigns are contextually specific
Understanding the role of people
Hotline analysts are the people who investigate these reports. These unsung heroes analyse the content and act to have illegal content removed so no one else has to see it. Behind these analysts are a whole team of people including hotline managers, communications specialists, and technology experts, all working together to support analysts’ work and encourage and facilitate the public to report.
In 2020, hotlines across the INHOPE network exchanged more than one million urls of CSAM (1.038.268). Without the proper tools, analysing these reports is an impossible and cumbersome task. Often, a single report can contain thousands of items of CSAM. Without the proper tools, analysing these reports is an impossible task.
Essential technology to get the job done
Once something is on the internet, it can be downloaded, shared, and reuploaded time and time again. This means hotlines around the world receive reports of the same content tens, hundreds, sometimes even thousands of times. Our secure platform, ICCAM, enables hotlines to work as a network by indicating whether an item of CSAM has already been assessed by someone else.
ICCAM enables hotlines to share reports of CSAM with each other and INTERPOL, saving precious time, reducing trauma, and enabling victims and perpetrators to be found.
In the last year, ICCAM has also been expanded to handle orphan reports. This means that no matter which country CSAM is reported or hosted in, analysts around the world can work together to ensure reports hosted in countries without an active hotline are also actioned and removed.
Having a national hotlines means having experts who are specialized in tackling CSAM, fighting on your behalf for the tools to be developed, legislation to be improved and local stakeholders to be supported. At INHOPE, we believe the public in every country deserve a dedicated response team, there to help when CSAM is found online.
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