In the digital age, the safety of children online is a key concern, requiring a multifaceted and holistic approach that builds up on education, awareness, training, safeguarding, and targeted laws. Detection technology, which leverages ad-hoc technical measures and tools to detect and prevent the circulation of child sexual abuse material online, is a key ally.
Imagine the internet as a big playground that we want to be safe for children. Detection technologies are like guardians that quickly and accurately search for and flag harmful behaviours and actions that can hurt or exploit children, such as sexualised messages and child sexual abuse material online. Detecting that harmful content makes it possible to take it down from the internet and report it to the appropriate authorities. This way, detection technologies are a great tool to protect and defend children online.
The role of detection technologies doesn’t stop at child protection online but serves as a prevention mechanism too. When child sexual abuse material or grooming online is detected, such material will be reported and removed from the internet, preventing children and survivors from experiencing re-victimisation. Detection technologies are a form of prevention due to the opportunity for law enforcement agencies to track offenders and hold them accountable for their crimes. Rapid detection and removal of abusive content are essential in reducing the long-term impact of abuse on a child’s well-being.
The deterrence effect is another significant contribution of detection technologies. By decreasing the volume and accessibility of child sexual abuse material online, these technologies raise the threshold for potential offenders, reinforcing the societal message that child sexual abuse is unequivocally unacceptable.
While detection technologies play a crucial role, human oversight remains indispensable in their deployment. The human eye and creative brain are essential for validating, ensuring accuracy, and addressing biases of technical tools. Human review not only contributes to continuous improvement but also guarantees compliance with legal and regulatory standards. The collaboration between technologies and human oversight creates a balanced and responsible approach to identifying child sexual abuse online.
Human oversight is indispensable in addressing online safety concerns; however, its efficacy can be limited when confronting the vast scale, speed, and objectivity required for preventing child sexual abuse online.
The sheer volume of online content demands swift and continuous evaluation, a task that detection technologies can perform efficiently 24/7, ensuring continuous monitoring and rapid response to emerging threats. This will not be sustainable for humans from both a productivity and mental well-being perspectives.
Combining the strengths of human expertise and compassion with the efficiency and speed of automated detection creates a balanced and comprehensive approach to tackling the complex challenge of child sexual abuse online.