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Deutsch: US-Hotline verzeichnet große Erfolge bei der Löschung von Missbrauch...
In the course of the past year the US National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) made huge improvements in its handling of both domestic and international reports of web-based child abuse material. These sudden and huge improvements come at a time when both the European Commission and individual member states, Germany in particular, have increased their international efforts to address child abuse crimes at source, rather than relying on addressing the symptoms through measures such as web blocking. These efforts are, in large part, the result of anti-blocking campaigns on national and EU level.
Although still far from perfect (with regard to due press of law and anonymous reporting, in particular), the US has moved from being widely considered to being a "safe haven" for such material to introducing diligent procedures that are significantly better than those in the EU on a number of fronts. The raw data are impressive. In May 2010, it was taking an average of 6.85 days to process complaints (94% of reports concerned legal material) while in May 2011, this delay had been reduced to 0.91 days. The amount of time to have the websites disabled was also impressively reduced, from 5.09 days to 1.99 days over the same period.
Both the EU and US systems suffer from the serious problem that sites are removed without judicial order, thereby circumventing both due process of law and also the automatic involvement of law enforcement authorities, despite the seriousness of the crimes depicted on the websites. It is inexplicable and sad that child abuse appears to be the only crime in society where it is normal and accepted that evidence can be posted on the Internet and not investigated and where due process of law is not an automatic reaction to compelling evidence of the crime being found.
Ironically, the quicker the "takedown" happens, the greater the risk that law enforcement authorities will feel able to devote their resources to other priorities, leaving the criminals with an effective licence to commit their crimes again. However, the US system "freezes" the site, storing all of the data that could be used by law enforcement authorities whereas the European approach is to simply delete the sites. The European approach therefore often works on the assumption that there will not be an investigation, that there will not be an effort to identify the victims, the owner of the site and the users of the site and, crucially, removes any pressure on law enforcement authorities to take action.
It is to be hoped that the US approach will lead to statistics being produced to show how many times the disabling of the websites is not followed up by law enforcement authorities - such statistics should help focus politicians' minds on the crimes going uninvestigated and unpunished.
In the EU, European hotlines are contractually obliged by the European Commission to produce statistics and, since last year, required to publish public statistics. Despite this, there is very little information available apart from the limited data provided by the Irish Internet Hotline and the Internet Watch Foundation (UK) and the thorough and impressive data produced by the ISPA Stopline in Austria. In the absence of such information, policy-makers, as shown all too clearly in the blocking debate, are forced to make policy without the data needed to make informed decisions.
NCMEC: URL reports to the CyberTipline and average # of days for staff to
NCMEC Notice Tracking System
NCMEC Notice Tracking Statistics
Irish Internet Hotline
Internet Watch Foundation
ISPA Austria Stopline
(Contribution by Joe McNamee - EDRi)