On Wednesday, May 20, Stephen Balkam, CEO of FOSI, hosted a panel discussion on child sexual abuse material (CSAM) online. A group of experts explained the roles they play in the vital work of eradicating CSAM from the Internet and obtaining justice for the victims. The aim of the discussion was to go behind the numbers and understand how a collaborative effort is needed to fight CSAM online.
The conversation featured detailed examples from industry, government, law enforcement, and NGOs, and highlighted how coordination and cooperation between these different actors is crucial to making the internet safer for all children.
Marisa Morin, Policy Advisor for Senator Ron Wyden, outlined the provisions of the Invest in Child Safety Act (S.3629), which would provide significant funding for additional personnel, technology, and coordinated operations throughout the United States to combat the spread of CSAM and prosecute those responsible.
Remy Malan from Roblox, discussed the technology and human reviews that his company employs to detect CSAM and other problematic content. He talked about their work to empower users with reporting tools and the steps they proactively take to stop the material from being uploaded.
Fred Langford from the Internet Watch Foundation in the UK detailed the ways in which IWF processes imagery and works with national and international law enforcement to investigate websites displaying CSAM with the goal of removing the content at its source.
John Shehan from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), expanded on how they work with industry, while also processing millions of reports a year and sending details to law enforcement that help prioritize the most urgent cases where there is imminent risk to a child.
Matt Wright, the Chief of the Child Exploitation Investigations Unit at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, explained how his unit investigates reports through a variety of methods including undercover work, while also noting the essential partnerships with NCMEC, the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program (ICAC) throughout the U.S., and foreign law enforcement and governments.
Steve Grocki, from the U.S. Department of Justice, discussed how his unit is strategic in responding to cases given the vast scale, complexity, and dangerousness of these crimes, and relies on close collaboration with all the other stakeholders mentioned above to combat such a global problem.
The audience Q&A explored how new technological advancements could help fight the spread of CSAM, how reports are tracked throughout the process, and how additional funding could be used to improve prosecutions.