What is the problem?
Child sexual abuse online is a crime that is ubiquitous and knows no borders. Child pornography images circulate easily across jurisdictions and perpetuate victimisation of children whose abuse is depicted and disclosed time and again. Child pornography offenders are increasingly operating in international online groups that use sophisticated technology and security protocols to frustrate the efforts of law enforcement to investigate their crimes. Different laws and policies across jurisdictions represent a challenge for law enforcement..
Why is EU action required?
The EU - US Justice and Home Affairs ministerial meeting held in Copenhagen in June 2012 called upon governments around the world to participate in building a Global Alliance against Child Sexual Abuse Online. This initiative seeks to unite decision-makers all around the world to better identify and assist victims and to prosecute the perpetrators.
What has the Commission done so far?
- Signature of Joint EU/US Declaration, committing to make the Internet a safer and better place for children by European Commission Vice President for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes and the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano
- Participation in IGF 2012 in Baku with a workshop on child online protection
- Participation of Russia in the INSAFE and INHOPE networks
- In December 2012, the Global Alliance against Child Sexual Abuse online was launched . One of the aims is also to establish dedicated law enforcement units for these crimes in all countries, and to make it easier to initiate joint cross-border police investigations. Co-operation with hotline services, where the public can report findings of online child pornography, should be intensified. Countries also commit themselves to making sure that the Interpol international database of child abuse material grows by 10 percent annually.
How will the Global Alliance work?
Authorities, mainly Ministers of Justice and Home Affairs of countries joining the Global Alliance commit to pursue a number of policy targets. These include efforts to identify and protect child victims, investigate cases and prosecute offenders, increase awareness of risks for children online, and reduce the availability of child pornography online. They will aim to reach operational goals and undertake specific action within their jurisdiction for that purpose. Specific actions, their extent and content, will be decided by participant countries, in accordance with their national situation.
To make commitments meaningful, a light monitoring mechanism would be set up. First, Ministers will take stock of existing actions at national level and announce what actions they will be undertaking in the near future. Then, two years later, they will report on the implementation of those actions, and gather again to look back, assess progress and decide what type of additional actions to take.
Secretarial functions to collect the national reports, make an overview on progress and organise regular conferences should be borne by participants on a rotating basis. European Commission services have volunteered to conduct those functions in the first round, and the US is willing to take the second round, followed by other participants.
What are countries in the Global Alliance expected to do?
Ministers from participating countries should commit to pursue a number of policy targets and operational goals (e.g. enhancing investigations). They would then decide what specific actions to take to achieve them, on the basis of their domestic situation (e.g. set up Joint Investigation Teams, participate in the Virtual Global Task Force).
Ultimately they are expected to take steps at national level to follow-up on those actions. This implementation part, under the responsibility of each Minister and each country, is the essence of the Global Alliance.