Each month, Cyan rounds-up interesting news items from the world of digital forensics, online harms and counter terror that you might have missed. In the news this month:
This month saw WeProtect Global Alliance issue their 2021 Global Threat Assessment. The report highlights that the scale and complexity of child sexual abuse is increasing. Some of the key points included were:
- The US National Center for Missing and Exploited Children processes on average 60,000 reports of child sexual abuse online every day
- 1 in 3 respondents to an Economist Impact global survey stated that they were asked to do something sexually explicit online they were uncomfortable with during childhood
- 18% of 18 to 20 years old reported experiencing a sexually explicit image of themselves being shared by a peer without consent
- The Internet Watch Foundation saw a 77% rise in child ‘self-generated’ sexual material from 2019 to 2020
The SafeToNet Foundation published a safeguarding podcast with Austin Berrier, a Homeland Securities Investigations Office. Discussing the impact of Apple’s child safety tech on law enforcement, Podcast Hunters, Talkers & Loopers, discusses live streaming of child sexual abuse on encrypted video steaming services, how online predatory paedophiles hunt in packs, Project Mercury and how Zoom worked with international law enforcement to indict 300 child abusers.
The Wiley Online Library looks at child sexual abuse and COVID-19, and the side effects of changed societies and positive lessons for prevention. During lockdown in the UK, most recorded forms of crime fell, but there was a 17% increase in online sexual crimes against children in six months. There were 17,699 online child sex offences recorded by police in England and Wales during April and September 2020.
Statistics suggest the nature of online abuse is changing. Increasingly, the images are where children have been sexually exploited online by peers and adults, or where teenagers have shared an image with a partner, only to have it further shared without their knowledge or consent. In 2020, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) took down 68,000 cases of self-generated imagery, accounting for nearly half (44%) of the imagery they took action on.
With Apple delaying its rollout of child safety features and Instagram delaying Instagram for Kids, The European Sting and World Economic Forum discusses how the risks to children online are growing. Amongst other things, the article looks at the key tensions and barriers to child safety online and what can be done, including age verification, increased privacy, risk exposure, preventative interventions and information inequalities.
A Finnish organisation called Protect Children has published the largest survey of people who watch child sexual abuse material online. After analysing 5,000 responses, it was found that a third of people attempted to directly contact a child after watching child sexual abuse material. 45% of respondents also reported looking for material of children between the ages of 4 and 13.
The United Nations has set new guidelines to improve the global efforts to protect children from exploitation. The guidelines offer concrete advice on how to effectively protect children from sexual exploitation and were developed by an expert working group led by ECPAT International. The guide sets out how states should approach the increasing number of self product images, how stronger and more efficient educational programmes for children are needed, and how children must be treated as victims and not criminals.