A recent report from an online service provider led to the arrest of 46 child predators in New Zealand and the identification of over 100 suspects across the EU. As a result, more than 140 children around the world were saved from sexual abuse. This case illustrates how just one report can make a difference and save hundreds of children from sexual abuse. Such reports can often be the only window into a situation of abuse which can be difficult to notice even for people who are closest to a child.
In 2019, the online service provider reported a large number of people using their platform to exchange disturbing photos, including sadistic acts of sexual abuse of infants and children. Following this report, an international investigation was launched, led by New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs. The investigation was supported by Europol, Interpol and law enforcement authorities from Australia, Austria, Canada, Croatia, Czechia, Greece, Hungary, Slovenia, Spain, the UK and the US.
As a result, 32 GB of child sexual abuse material were discovered. The investigation opened more than 830 cases around the world. A couple of cases stood out as particularly disturbing – two suspects from Austria and Hungary were abusing their own children, who were respectively six and eight years old. Both children are now in safety. Another suspect from Spain was found to own and share child sexual abuse material in addition to also filming naked and sexual videos of adults without their consent. A large number of investigations are still ongoing across the EU.
New EU rules against child sexual abuse
Unfortunately, despite this inspiring example, not all online service providers submit such reports. In May 2022, the European Commission proposed a law that makes it mandatory for tech companies to prevent and detect child sexual abuse on their platforms. This includes cases of grooming – a practice where sexual predators build a relationship with children so they can manipulate, exploit and abuse them.
The EU’s goal is to make this law a reality by August 2024. If the law does not pass by then, the current EU regulation will expire, making it easier for predators to sexually abuse children without consequences.
- Publication date
- 22 November 2022
- Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs