Thorn engages with the European Commission to develop solutions to stop the spread of child pornography
LOS ANGELES, February 2, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Julie Cordua, CEO of Thorn, met with EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson last week as part of the commissioner’s meetings with Silicon Valley tech leaders to discuss proposed EU legislation that would require platforms to do more to prevent online child sexual abuse.
Child sexual exploitation material (CSAM) is a global and pervasive problem on the Internet, and the European Union is set to take groundbreaking regulatory action to tackle this pressing problem. Recent research from WeProtect shows that 54% of children worldwide have experienced at least one harmful sexual encounter online. Additionally, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) revealed that it has exceeded 100 million reports of child sexual exploitation, almost all of which relate to images and videos circulating online of children. victims of sexual abuse, with nearly 80% of those files depicting children under the age of 12, according to the Canadian Center for Child Protection.
Thorn’s mission is to eliminate child sexual abuse from the internet, and the nonprofit has developed tools that help tech companies combat the problem by identifying and removing CSAM from their platforms. .
“I am grateful for the excellent work that Commissioner Johansson and her team are putting into this legislation. The EU is leading the fight against online child sexual abuse and could set standards that will improve the safety of children across the We at Thorn applaud their attention to this serious and pressing issue and look forward to providing our expertise where it is needed,” said Julie CordobaCEO of Thorn.
During their meeting, Cordua shared Thorn’s perspective on how EU lawmakers can help us stand up for children around the world:
- Make detection, removal and reporting mandatory: In United States, platforms are legally required to report CSAM if they find it on their platforms. In the EU, platforms can simply block or remove CSAM without reporting it, which means perpetrators are not held accountable and victims can continue to be abused, when they would otherwise be identified and put sheltered. Detection and reporting of CSAM content to law enforcement authorities or relevant reporting bodies should be mandatory for all EU-based internet service providers and platforms. To do this, there must be a clear system that avoids duplicate reporting to multiple jurisdictions and enables effective collaboration between enforcement agencies globally.
- Create a European center that fits into the global child safety ecosystem: The EU needs a centralized entity to streamline and protect the most sensitive data – documentation of child sexual abuse – while working in partnership with platforms and law enforcement to develop the best practices and effective tools to stop the spread of CSAM. The European Union essentially needs its own version of the US NCMEC that would fit seamlessly into the global ecosystem while acting as a regional masthead. The efficiencies such an entity would provide could dramatically increase the removal and reporting of child sexual abuse, disrupting the cycle of trauma for survivors, while accelerating the identification of victims at potential risk. Data flow is essential to ensure cross-border collaboration to identify child victims and prosecute criminals.
- Encourage innovation through legislation: Legal certainty on the use of smart and secure technologies such as hash matching, classifiers and anti-grooming tools is vital and should be considered fundamental. We must also ensure that innovation is not only legally protected but encouraged in order to respond to the rapidly evolving threats in this space. Any new EU legislation should allow for the creation, testing and use of innovative tools. We need transparency and safeguards, but not in a way that would render technology useless by providing infringers with a roadmap for reverse engineering or workarounds. The interim waiver to the ePrivacy Directive that was passed in the EU last summer struck a good balance by putting in place prior consultation and stricter reporting standards without an overly burdensome set of requirements. This balance is important and should be maintained in any long-term legislation.
“Currently, global systems are not doing enough to defend children against online sexual abuse. The EU has the power to set new standards for child safety, providing a clear legal framework for tech companies that encourages collaboration and innovative solutions. The European Union Commission could set the global example that will bring us closer to universal adoption of proactive CSAM detection, notification and removal,” continued Cordoba. “We need EU leadership to make a long-term commitment, backed by thoughtful legislation, to build a safer internet, where every child can just be a child.”
About Thorn: Thorn is a non-profit organization founded in 2012 to develop technology to defend children against sexual abuse in order to eliminate child pornography content on the Internet. Thorn creates products that identify child victims faster, provides services that enable the tech industry to take a proactive role in removing abusive content from their platforms, and works directly with young people and communities to build resilient children. Learn more about Thorn’s mission to develop technology to defend children against sexual abuse at Thorn.org.