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INHOPE Spring 2023 Hotline Training Meeting - Recap
On the 26th and 27th of April, 120 participants from INHOPE member hotlines, law enforcement, government and industry partners came together in Malta for our spring hotline training meeting (HTM).
These events aim to share knowledge and expertise from established European and international experts in the online child protection field, including trust and safety experts, national law enforcement agencies, and technology companies to discuss topics relevant to the work of INHOPE member hotlines.
With the upcoming global shifts in legislation governing child sexual abuse and harmful content online and technological innovations changing the way we interact online, the goal of this training meeting was to prepare the network for future challenges and improve the speed, efficacy, and accessibility of the CSAM reporting process. The two days of meetings covered new & emerging technological threats and opportunities, supporting analyst welfare & network cooperation, raising hotline accessibility for vulnerable groups to promote reporting, improving the reporting process & information sharing, supporting hotline advocacy efforts for more effective national CSAM legislation & emphasising the added value of hotlines in the child safety ecosystem.
Day one of the training meeting opened with a panel discussion on the next generation of online safety with a focus on the metaverse and extended reality and their implications for the work of the network going forward. Industry partners ZEPETO and Meta presented the child protection safeguards on their platforms, and Polish member hotline NASK gave an overview of their recent research conducted on extended reality and the metaverse.
Tools to support victims
Member hotlines Internet Watch Foundation and NCMEC gave attendees an introduction to their new tools to support a child in reporting sexual images or videos shared online and enable them to get the image removed if it is illegal.
Report Remove is the tool developed by the IWF and NSPCC.
Take It Down is the service provided by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
The Danish member hotline AnmeldDet let participants in a workshop on staff welfare best practices.
With actionable best practices and guided networking sessions, the Danish hotline shared their experiences with developing a sustainable work environment and cultural well-being and engaged the INHOPE network in discussing the different hotline practices in the work environment. One key takeaway was the importance of a tailored debriefing model to allow analysts to decompress after an assessment session and process their reactions and experiences with assessing content.
Financial trends in the exchange of CSAM
INHOPE’s US member hotline NCMEC provided a retrospective evaluation of sexual coercion and extortion trends over the years as compared to 2022 and highlighted for participants the increasing number of reports relating to this topic. In 2022, the speed of extortion has greatly increased, the volume of children affected is much higher and more global, and this extortion now appears to be more financially motivated than sexual.
How to investigate criminal cryptocurrency payments
Jarek Jakubceck from Binance started this workshop by identifying why cryptocurrency is a relevant topic for participants. The irreversible nature of the transaction was accounted as one of the main reasons why cryptocurrency is often used for different cyber-extortion schemes. Additionally, cryptocurrency is considered a convenient way to digitally store a large amount of money from law enforcement agencies (LEA).
In relation to the subject of CSAM, cryptocurrency payment methods are used in investigation cases of sextortion, dark web membership fees, CSAM crowd founding and live-streamed child abuse. Because of this, it is important for hotline analysts to be able to recognise different types of cryptocurrency address formats.
During the session, participants were provided with detailed visual examples to understand how to recognise the main formats for cryptocurrency and IP addresses.
Accessibility and awareness raising
Day two of the hotline training meeting began with a workshop on raising awareness and promoting accessibility. Chaired by Þóra Jónsdóttir, Hotline Manager, Barnaheill - Save the Children á Íslandi and with presentations from Faustine Labbadi, Policy Officer at the Council of Europe and Robin Massart, Web Accessibility Directive Team G3, DG Connect, European Commission this session was focused on how hotlines can raise awareness to reach children and disabled populations more effectively, and what improvements can be made to hotline reporting forms to increase access for both groups.
Ms. Labbadi gave an informative presentation on the Lanzarote Convention as it applies to reporting mechanisms and highlighted examples of promising practices identified in the European Union to promote reporting to children.
Mr. Massart provided an overview of the current web accessibility policies in place for members operating in the European Union and outlined concrete examples for improving the accessibility of hotline reporting forms for disabled individuals.
Participants were then divided into groups to discuss their current hotline practices and how to promote reporting and improve its accessibility for vulnerable populations.
Legal definitions of CSAM & advocacy campaigns
Day two of the training meeting was closed with a network-wide information-gathering exercise focused on examining the different legal definitions of child sexual abuse material throughout the network, identifying effective examples, and discussing successful member advocacy efforts to change national legislation on CSAM.
Participants were again divided into groups and gave their input on the following questions:
- How is Child Sexual Abuse Material defined in your national legislation, and what terminology does the legislation use?
- Does your national legislation define child sexual exploitation material, and if so, how?
- Has your organisation participated in any lobbying campaigns for changing legislation, and do you have any best practices or lessons learned from these activities?
In terms of the CSAM terminology in the different national legislation codes, opinions varied, but the majority of participants reported that the term ‘child pornography’ is still regularly used. Examples of positive and ongoing initiatives were presented in relation to changing the legislative terminology in countries such as Italy, USA, and Denmark.
Grey areas were discussed as well as new technology implementation in relation to new forms of online abuse. Additionally, topics such as age of consent varying between different countries and the definition of what is considered “indecent material,” were also addressed.
Great efforts were highlighted by a number of countries in terms of best practices and lobbying campaigns. Among these, efforts from Thailand (i.e., a four years and ongoing effort to include elements such as grooming, sexting, cyberstalking and cyberbullying under the CSEA (Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse) terminology), Slovenia (i.e., memorandum of understanding with the police), Bosnia (i.e., round tables with law enforcement agencies), USA (i.e., active collaboration with NGOs), and Taiwan (i.e., with an effort of twenty years of lobbying and advocating with local politician regarding the importance of terminology).
The key takeaway for future discussions on this topic was the importance of interdisciplinary action in relation to legislative changes and the need to speak with a united voice and as a strong group on this topic.
Both accessibility and advocacy are priority topics for the INHOPE network over the coming years, and the discussions had during the breakout sessions are the first of many conversations as a network on these topics. This hotline training meeting was closed by acknowledging the importance of unified cooperation as a network and celebrating the knowledge base and vast amount of resources and expertise present in this global network.
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With the upcoming global shifts in legislation governing child sexual abuse and harmful content online and technological innovations changing the way we interact online, the goal of this training meeting was to prepare the network for future challenges and improve the speed, efficacy, and accessibility of the CSAM reporting process.'