Tackling Online Child Abuse in The Netherlands Bears Fruit

The half-yearly statistics of the Hotline, part of the EOKM in the Netherlands (Expert Centre Online Child Abuse), show a sharp drop in reports of child sexual abuse material (CSAM). Over the first two quarters, there were 93 percent fewer anonymous reports than in 2021. When compared to 2021, the number of reports received through international hotlines has dropped by 77 percent. According to the EOKM, these declining numbers demonstrate that the strategy used to combat child sex abuse online appears to be working.

Numerous causes contribute to the sharp drop in reports of child sexual abuse material, according to the EOKM. One of these is the heightened pressure on hosting providers in the Netherlands lately. Despite the good cooperation with hosting companies in the past, the EOKM frequently observed that some hosting providers did not make enough effort to keep the Internet free of sexual images of kids.

The pressure on hosting providers has intensified thanks to the ‘Children Safe on the Internet’ program, an initiative of former Justice and Security Minister in the Netherlands, Ferd Grapperhaus, as well as a partnership between Internet companies, the EOKM, and the Ministry of Justice and Security.

Additionally, the currently being established Child Sexual Abuse Material Authority has the authority to levy sanctions. This would have a significant impact on hosting provider decisions to work with the EOKM to clean up the Internet.

Instant Image Identifier

The Instant Image Identifier, formerly known as the Hashcheckserver, is a service that many hosting providers subscribe to. Hosting companies can use this technical tool to see if content posted to their systems is listed in a database of known child sex abuse material. They can then take it down to stop the posting of material about the sex abuse of minors online.

The EOKM has observed that a number of image hosts have relocated outside of the Netherlands as a result of the Dutch approach to online child sexual exploitation. The fact that the issue is evolving is concerning. Hosters may also completely vanish from public view because some of them have relocated to nations with no laws at all regulating the usage of such image material. Therefore, the EOKM urges continued global watchfulness and increased cooperation.