Hotline Child Pornography sees a large drop in reports of abuse material

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The Online Child Abuse Expertise Office received significantly fewer reports of online child abuse material in the past year. The EOKM thinks that this was mainly due to the pressure placed on hosting providers.

The center of expertise writes that the number of reports of child sexual abuse material or CSAM fell by as much as 93 percent in the first half of 2022 compared to 2021. These are reports that internet users Hotline Child Pornography deliver. This is a portal where people can indicate that they come across child abuse material somewhere on the public internet. Earlier this year, EOKM chairman Arda Gerkens told Tweakers that a large part of the CSAM images cannot be found on the dark web, but on hosting sites where users can post images anonymously.

The EOKM attributes the decrease to the fact that the Netherlands is taking tougher action against hosting providers. That took off a few years ago under the then Minister of Justice and Security Ferd Grapperhaus. In 2020, he suggested the idea of ​​blacklisting providers who are repeatedly caught hosting CSAM. Later that year he put words into action and published such a list. This showed that two providers in particular are major suppliers. If the Hotline Child Pornography receives a tip, the EOKM, as administrator, passes it on to the hosting provider. Hosting providers have made agreements that they will take the material offline within a few hours. Companies that fail to do so will be placed on the list.

According to the EOKM, this approach has been useful. “The ‘Kindsafe Internet’ program has increased the pressure on hosters,” the agency writes. In addition, there would be the threat of future fines. Grapperhaus also ordered the establishment of a ‘Child Pornography Authority’. They should also be given the power to impose fines. The threat of this would also help to deter hosting providers, according to the EOKM. That would only be a threat: the authority is still being established and it is not known when it will be operational.

The EOKM does see that many Dutch hosting parties are moving abroad. “This is worrying because the problem is moving. Hosters can also disappear completely from the picture because some of them have left for countries where there is no enforcement of such images,” the expert agency writes. However, the foundation also sees a positive trend internationally. The number of reports to international hotlines fell by 77 percent.

The EOKM therefore advocates more international cooperation. There is already a lot; last year Tweakers wrote in a background article how internet companies work together with foundations such as the EOKM to detect and combat CSAM via hotlines and scanning tools.

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