In the early to mid-1990s the sudden availability of CSAM on an unprecedented scale provided the first evidence that the internet was going to create new types of risk to children. The continued circulation of large volumes of CSAM on the internet is a very long way from being solved although, as this report will show, recent technological developments are showing considerable promise.
Each image, video or stream of a child being sexually abused is an image of a child in need of help both to recover from the psychological and possibly physical harm caused by the original act of sexual abuse depicted, but also from the additional harm caused by the publication and distribution of the material.
The continued circulation of CSAM of an individual child not only represents an infringement of that child’s right to privacy and human dignity, it also puts the child at risk of further sexual abuse and other harms. This puts a major premium on victim identification and safeguarding but in addition, to the extent that the on-going circulation of CSAM encourages new and existing paedophile activity, it represents a threat to children as yet unharmed in every country of the world. For these reasons there continues to be a major focus on addressing CSAM on the internet.