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71 countries call for removal of online child sexual abuse materials

71 countries have called for the urgent removal of online child sexual abuse materials in the first of its kind “call to action” at the United Nations, according to UK Mission to the UN in Vienna.

For the first time at the UN, 71 governments have come together and agreed a call to action statement urging further and faster action to remove known child sexual abuse materials from online.

In 2022, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children cyber-Tipline received more than 32 million reports of suspected child sexual exploitation and abuse.

The call to action statement emphasises that there is growing and global consensus that more needs to be done and with greater urgency to keep children safe across our communities and online all over the world.

The call to action is informed by two days of expert discussions hosted by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), supported by the UK government. These discussions brought together a wide range of experts and activists, including from child protection charities, the public sector, the private sector and the legal and finance sectors.

The present financial institutions accepted that they can play a central role to encourage businesses, to which they provide banking facilities, to identify child sex abuse material, to delete it and prevent it from being reuploaded.

In the call to action, 71 countries acknowledge that the creation, possession and dissemination of child sexual exploitation and abuse material puts children at risk of further sexual exploitation and abuse, and that the widespread dissemination of this material can normalise this conduct and fuel demand for more.

UK Ambassador, Corinne Kitsell, said:

“The role of technology companies is central to tackling the issue of online child sexual exploitation and abuse. Of particular concern to the UK, is the move by companies to implement end-to-end encryption, which without robust child safety measures will make the detection and removal of child sexual abuse materials even more challenging, and particularly for law enforcement efforts in responding, pursing offenders and safeguarding children.”

Lianna McDonald, Executive Director, Canadian Centre for Child Protection (C3P), said:

“The message that we want delivered comes from the victims and survivors we hear from every day; get child sexual abuse material off the internet. We welcome the call to action from UNODC and the UK government. This leadership is much needed and underscores the necessity for a global commitment and response to protect children around the world.”

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