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companies and third-sector organisations. A list of interviewees is contained in the appendix. The report is based on a careful review of existing literature and interviews with various experts, including the Internet Watch Foundation, CEOP, law enforcement, academics, internet companies and third-sector organisations.
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TECHNOLOGY BRIEFING SERIES

Briefing 1 Online Child Sexual Abuse Imagery

Centre for the Analysis of Social Media

TECHNOLOGY BRIEFING SERIES Demos is producing a series of briefings about technology, bringing together experts from policy, practice and tech. We recognise that technology can present a challenge to policy makers. The aim of this series is to help with that challenge: to explain the technology clearly and succinctly, to report expert opinion with clarity, and to share the views of big players in the world of technology. This report is the first in the series. It examines child sexual abuse images (CSAI) and their distribution and consumption online. We are especially grateful for interviews, input and expert advice from the Internet Watch Foundation, CEOP, law enforcement, academics, internet companies and third-sector organisations. A list of interviewees is contained in the appendix. The report is based on a careful review of existing literature and interviews with various experts, including the Internet Watch Foundation, CEOP, law

enforcement, academics, internet companies and third-sector organisations that work with offenders and victims.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY New technology has made the task of

Police successes in identifying and

tackling CSAI significantly more difficult.

prosecuting criminals who operate in this

Specifically, the internet has allowed for

area have tended to rely on both

new channels of access and distribution

international co-operation and forensic

that are often based overseas and change

detective work. Investment in this type of

frequently with technological advance.

policing is necessary. When resources are

While the problem is borderless, law

stretched, it is necessary for policing to

enforcement remains geographically

focus resources on the most serious

constrained.

offenses: those which can be most effective in reducing harm to children.

There are no easy solutions to this problem. It is not possible to develop a

Prevention work, while difficult, remains

singular, technological solution to this

one area where more can be done. There

problem: success to date has turned on

is a general consensus that investing

effective industry self-regulation and

more in schemes to work with potential

commitment of industry resources. This

offenders and prevent re-offending would

can be illustrated by the small proportion

be a positive move.

of illegal content identified on social

media platforms and other major

It will not be possible to ensure informed

technology companies, and the reputation

public debate about CSAI without

of regulators like the IWF.

responsible reporting of the problem. It is everybody’s responsibility to report on the

However, there is a significant amount of

subject carefully, in an informed way, and

investment in using technology to identify

without conflating CSAI with other harmful

material, which is proving valuable in

online content. Lessons could be learned

tackling the problem. This needs further

from well-established reporting guidelines,

support.

such as news related to suicide.

01. Introduction to CSAI Online

INTRODUCTION

In 1990 the Home Office estimated the figure of video- or paper-based CSAI in circulation to around 7,000 images; today, police seizures often involve millions of digitally stored images.

The Internet has fundamentally changed the way in which chil