Hotline.ie Annual Report
Hotline.ie findings reveal that 1 in 5 webpages assessed as displaying child sexual abuse images and videos, in 2019, included a paywall alongside “preview” images to advertise premium access to further abusive content subsequent to payment.
Hotline.ie Analysts also came across forum threads showing “preview” imagery and referencing content trading as an alternative “payment” method to gain access to “the community” and/or premium abusive content.
“It can be jarring to witness individuals conversing so casually about the sexual abuse and exploitation of defenceless children, as if they are a commodity. The discussions attempting to normalise, legitimise and justify the consumption and production of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) may be as unsettling as the content itself.” Sean, Hotline.ie Analyst.
Hotline.ie findings also show child sexual abuse material is spread across all available digital mediums, with some online services being misused to serve as gateways or meeting environments (i.e. forums, bulletin boards, chatrooms, etc.), whilst others as “end-destination”.
In its latest Annual Report, Hotline.ie notes that the commercial* aspect of CSAM is not always obvious or easy to ascertain due to cross-platform production, sharing, distribution and the myriad of payment methods (i.e. membership systems, advertising frames, pre-paid cards, credit systems, text message payments and virtual currencies) used at different points in the online journey.
“As an NGO working in this field, we know it’s very difficult to think of vulnerable babies and children becoming victims of crimes involving sexual abuse. To know that certain individuals are also profiting from the abhorrent abuse of children and their suffering reinforces the urgency to act and our commitment to do all that we can, every day, to contribute to the eradication of CSAM from the Internet. By removing child sexual abuse material we reduce the supply and confront the demand, whilst preventing repeat-victimisation of children who have suffered sexual abuse.” Ana Niculescu, Chief Executive of Hotline.ie
Key figures and findings released by Hotline.ie in their latest Annual Report include:
- Hotline.ie identified and removed more child sexual abuse material than ever before, with 1 in 4 of 10,773 public reports received in 2019 classified as CSAM. This represents a marked increase of 79% in CSAM reports over the previous year.
- The 2,575 URLs which displayed thousands of child sexual abuse images and videos appeared across 62 domains, traced to 32 countries worldwide. 64% of the CSAM found by Hotline.ie was hosted in Europe, with 0.3% of the known CSAM in Ireland.
- 83% of the victims depicted in the child sexual abuse images and videos, Hotline.ie Analysts worked to remove in 2019, were pre-pubescent children aged 4 to 12.
- 157% increase in child sexual abuse video content displayed alongside abusive images when compared to the 2018 figures of same.
- Hotline.ie identified 998 disguised websites distributing child sexual abuse images and videos, a significant increase from 158 in 2018.
For a more detailed analysis of facts, figures and findings, the Hotline.ie 2019 Annual Report is available in digital format https://www.hotline.ie/library/annual-reports/2020/annual-report-2019.pdf
“We’ve witnessed all in society coming together to support and protect one another against the COVID-19 pandemic. There is now a sense of urgency to also come together to better protect children against sexual abuse and exploitation online. The public should remain vigilant and continue to report concerns to Hotline.ie, one repot can make a tangible difference in the life of victims and survivors of child sexual abuse.” Ana Niculescu, Chief Executive of Hotline.ie
If you suspect to have stumbled across sexual content of under 18s online, report it to Hotline.ie.
- You can do so anonymously, securely and confidentially and action will be taken.
- Provide the exact URL where the suspected child sexual abuse imagery is located.
- You should also report non-photographic child sexual abuse content such as computer generated, drawings, pseudo-photographs etc.
- Urgent situations where persons may be in immediate danger should always be reported directly to An Garda Síochána.
- For information, advice and free education resources addressing a range of Internet safety issues and concerns please see https://www.webwise.ie/