Benchmarking Index on the response to child sexual abuse and exploitation

Benchmarking Index on the response to child sexual abuse and exploitation
11 January, 2019 NetClean
In Business

Benchmarking Index on the response to child sexual abuse and exploitation

Next week, Wednesday 16 January, a Benchmarking Index designed to identify best practices towards bringing child sexual abuse to an end will be launched. NetClean CEO Anna Borgström welcomed this initiative at the pre-launch at UN Headquarters in October 2018, stating that the Index will render the UN Development Goal 16.2 a way to be quantifiably measured.  

Developed by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), with the support of the World Childhood Foundation USA and the Oak Foundation and with additional support from the Carlson Family Foundation, the purpose of the Benchmarking Index is to raise global awareness of the sexual violence against children, and to give policy makers and other influencers a clearer understanding of the issues surrounding child sexual abuse. It will also be used to identify best practices towards bringing the abuse to an end.

UN Development Goal 16.2: end abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence and torture against children

At a pre-launch in 2018, held at a high level meeting at UN Headquarters in New York, hosted by the Permanent Mission of Sweden to the UN in New York and Childhood USA, the Index was welcomed as an initiative that will make the UN’s Development goal 16.2 a quantifiable goal. It will work as a tangible tool for nations and governments included in the index to scrutinise the problem and find ways of addressing it. It will also provide a strong impetus for governments and nations to compare progress with and learn from other governments and nations.  

The pre-launch event was attended by leaders from governments, academia, civil society and the private sector. NetClean CEO Anna Borgström was invited to speak at the high level meeting and highlighted the role that technology can play in ending abuse, exploitation and all forms of violence against children.

Borgström also mentioned the significance of being able to measure the results of this work, pointing to how well businesses do when they invest in the communities around them.

The countries that have been selected for the Index come from across all regions and income levels. NetClean is based in Sweden, which was one of the countries that were selected for the Index, and Borgström professed at the event that she hoped that Sweden will be able to shine a light on how Government, Industry, Law enforcement and Civil society as a whole can use technology to stop online child sexual abuse.

Watch the pre-launch here

You can read the whole of Anna Borgström’s speech below:

Your Highnesses, your Excellencies, Partners and Colleagues. My name is Anna Borgström and I am CEO of NetClean. NetClean offer technical solutions to stop the spread of child sexual abuse material that in the end can save children and give abused children a brighter future.

NetClean exist because of World Childhood Foundation and we are a result of what can happen if people chose to believe in innovation and young people with an idea.

Today 15 years later NetClean and our sister companies have a substantial footprint in the world and our technologies have a natural place among other technologies that combat child sexual abuse material. Our technologies are used by businesses, law enforcement agencies and government organisations in more than 110 countries. 

We who work at NetClean love technology and we strongly believe that technology is essential if we are going to meet the SDGs, including goal 16.2 – ending abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against children.

Today we see a lot of different technologies that work to stop the spread of child sexual abuse material and the existing technologies are becoming more and more efficient. But the technologies cannot stand alone; They must be used and deployed in different ways;

Technology must be deployed by the companies that provides access to the internet; by companies that provide mobile applications and social media platforms, by companies that provide hosting and storage services, gaming platforms, and by companies that provide work computers to employees and enable them to connect those devices to the internet.

For technology to be used efficiently we need to have knowledge about the problem we are addressing – and we need to have the courage to do something about it once we gain that knowledge.

The fact is that people who have a sexual interest in children is part of our society and we know from our NetClean report that most of the people that are investigated for possession of child sexual abuse material have an employment.

We also know from our report that there is a strong correlation between consuming child sexual abuse material and committing hands on sexual abuse on children. The report also state that most sexual abuse on children is committed by someone that is close to the child, most likely a parent or a close relative.

In this year report that will be launched later this year we interviewed some of our customers about their experience of detecting child sexual abuse material on the company computers and the interviews reviled that the average number of alarms was 2 per 1000 employees. That means that in an average 2 employees out of 1 000 consume child sexual abuse material with the company computer. Most of the alarms comes from USB sticks and the majority of the alarms occurred outside the office and office hours; on evenings, business trips and holidays for example. During lunchtime and early in the mornings are also popular times to view child sexual abuse material.

The interviews we did also showed that people often unplug the computer from the corporate network and the internet when they consume child sexual abuse material with the work computer.

Businesses are in a unique position to contribute to stop child sexual abuse and comply with goal 16.2. By taking concrete actions and use technology businesses can identify those with a sexual interest in children and by following the trail of a detected image – and in collaboration with Law Enforcement – new material can be found, offenders can be prosecuted, and children can be rescued from ongoing and future abuse.

It is safe to say that the internet is driving the production and the spread of child sexual abuse material, but we have to remember that before the ICT revolution there were little opportunities to identify children that suffered from sexual abuse. Today with the presence of documented child sexual abuse material online the possibilities and opportunities to stop the abuse has increased hugely.

The mentality across society need to be that every image count, because every image is a crime scene that needs to be reported to law enforcement, investigated and finally removed from the internet. To break the chain of abuse we need to be innovative – not only in technology but in collaborations between sectors; we need to share our data, we need to share our knowledge and we need to use technology.

Child sexual abuse is an internet enabled crime. It is not just about creating opportunities to identify children. By stopping the abuse, we also create opportunities for the children to develop better and therefore we can create opportunities for the adults that the children will become in the future. 

Thank you.  

The pre-launch event hosted at the UN Assembly in 2018, was organised by the World Childhood Foundation USA (WCF) together with the Swedish Mission to the UN, and in partnership with The Oak Foundation, the United Nations Office of Partnerships, The Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children and Together for Girls.