IGF 2020 WS #197 Tackling all forms of child sexual exploitation online

Thematic Track

Organizer 1: Steffen Eisentraut, jugendschutz.net
Organizer 2: Szymon Wójcik, Empowering Children Foundation
Organizer 3: Maren Hamelmann, jugendschutz.net
Organizer 4: Andreas Hautz, jugendschutz.net
Organizer 5: Julia Piechna, NASK

Speaker 1: Melissa Stroebel, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Denton Howard, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: David Miles, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 4: Sonia Livingstone, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Szymon Wójcik, Civil Society, Eastern European Group

Online Moderator

Maren Hamelmann, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Andreas Hautz, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Panel - Auditorium - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

- What are the views of different stakeholders on balancing children’s right to participate in the digital environment and their right to be protected from sexual exploitation? - How can we tackle all different forms of sexual exploitation online – like grooming, harassment, sexting and non-consensual use of images for sexual purposes – taking into account children’s rights to participation and protection? - What are the tasks stakeholders must fulfil in order to protect children from sexual exploitation on the Internet and which concrete measures should be taken? - How can children benefit from the opportunities the Internet has to offer without the risk of being exposed to sexualised content or contacts?

The session addresses the various forms of child sexual exploitation online and gathers the perspectives of different stakeholders – ICT industry, policy makers, science, civil society and youth. While law enforcement agencies, ISPs and CSOs have already joined efforts to combat child sexual abuse material (CSAM), there still are concerns for children’s safety when it comes to phenomena like grooming, sexting, sexual harassment, sextortion, or non-consensual dissemination of images for sexual purposes. Unlike the criminally illegal activities in terms of CSAM, not all forms of sexual exploitation of children are liable to prosecution in every country. Many of these incidents relate to self-generated material (e.g. sharing nude pictures among peers) and take place on streaming platforms, messengers and networks popular among children. Furthermore, these problems can aggravate in times of a global pandemic like currently with COVID-19, since young people are even more engaged in online communication in times of social distancing and isolation. The session will provide the opportunity to bring together expertise from different stakeholder groups in order to discuss solutions on a) how to improve child online safety and b) how we can balance children’s rights to participation and protection and implement these responsibly.


GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-Being
GOAL 4: Quality Education
GOAL 5: Gender Equality
GOAL 10: Reduced Inequalities
GOAL 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


More and more minors engage in different forms of social activities online – often related to romantic and sexual relationships which makes them vulnerable to exploitation. Defending their right to engage in those activities safely while protecting them from harm is a responsibility for the entire society. Representatives of governments, civil society, the internet industry and academia must work together to ensure the balancing of children’s rights to participation in the digital environment and protection from sexual exploitation. The workshop will give stakeholders from all areas concerned the opportunity to connect and discuss responsible ways to fulfil both rights. In order to guarantee a substantive discussion, the workshop will be facilitated as an interactive panel discussion by means of an online interactive tool. After introducing speakers, agenda and methodology, the speakers will present their expertise on protecting children from sexual exploitation online while keeping in mind their right to participation. Each speaker will present the perspective of a specific stakeholder group: 1) Civil Society: Hotlines Combatting Sexual Exploitation; Denton Howard, INHOPE (confirmed) 2) ICT Industry: Safety by Design; David Miles, Facebook (confirmed) 3) Academia: Media Literacy; Prof Sonia Livingstone, London School of Economics (confirmed) 4) Member States: Regulatory Approaches; Representative of ITU (to be confirmed) 5) Civil Society/Research: Technological Tools; Melissa Stroebel, Thorn (confirmed) Following the presentations, the speakers will discuss the policy questions, including on-site and online participants’ questions collected through the online tool. There will also be the possibility for participants to ask additional questions during the discussion. Young activists will be invited to the workshop to enable also the intergenerational exchange of thoughts and opinions. At the end of the session, participants will have the opportunity to give a final input about the finding(s) they deem most relevant for the session. The outcomes will be visualized in a word cloud, which will be incorporated into the session report. Planned Agenda: 1. Introduction (10 mins); 2. Presentations (8 mins per speaker = 40 mins); 3. Panel discussion including participants’ questions (30 mins); 4. Final vote and wrap-up (10 mins)

Expected Outcomes

- Stronger visibility and awareness of children´s rights to participation and protection. - Better understanding of the importance to tackle all forms of child sexual exploitation online. - Initiation of a dialogue and cooperation between all relevant stakeholders. - New networks/working groups for discussion and collaboration in the field of combating child sexual exploitation online: All participants will have the opportunity to sign up for a group of individuals and organizations interested in further cooperation. The aim will be to set up regular meetings to exchange findings and organize public events to address further relevant stakeholders. The organizers also intend to reach out to the Dynamic Coalition on Child Online Safety to create synergies. Members of the DC will be invited to the workshop.

The workshop will have the set-up of an interactive panel discussion enabling active participation both on-site and online. By using Slido or a similar online interaction tool, we will involve everyone. During the presentations and throughout the entire workshop, on-site and online participants will have the opportunity to collect their questions in the tool. By allowing people to upvote the questions, we can focus on the topics that the audience is most eager to discuss. The online moderator will make sure that questions are prioritized by selecting the most frequently asked questions. There will also be the possibility for participants to ask additional questions during the discussion.

Relevance to Internet Governance: Protecting children against sexual exploitation online is an undeniably important issue, which can only be solved by all stakeholders joining forces. States are responsible for the protection of children’s fundamental rights according to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and they have to implement the appropriate legal framework. Civil society should raise awareness for risks and challenges regarding sexual exploitation. Additionally, it is important to enable parents, teachers and children to develop the necessary media literacy skills. The ICT industry plays a key role when it comes to providing a safe digital environment. At the same time, all relevant stakeholders are responsible to ensure and balance children’s rights to participation and protection online in accordance with the UNCRC. The Council of Europe’s Guidelines to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of the child in the digital environment further set out these rights and give them a concrete form.

Relevance to Theme: Current studies show that young people all over the world engage in online activities more than ever, playing games, watching videos, chatting with friends and creating own content on social media. Studies also show that many children have already been confronted with sexualized content or have felt uncomfortable through online grooming or sexual harassment, particularly when they share private images or videos. In order to experience the internet free of troubles, children need to be able to trust in platforms and online communities to shelter them from all forms of sexual exploitation. Especially in times of a global pandemic like COVID-19, the relevance of this issue becomes even more visible. With young people staying at home most of the time, they move their relationships online and may be inclined to take more risks when sharing sexual content with their peers or even with strangers. Therefore, risks are even higher for young people to become victims of sexual exploitation. All stakeholders are aware of the challenges that go along with growing up in a digital environment and of their responsibility towards children. Although a lot has been done to improve the situation, there still are gaps and the need for a holistic approach towards tackling child sexual exploitation online in all its facets.

Online Participation


Usage of IGF Official Tool. Additional Tools proposed: The online interaction tool Slido facilitates involving both online and on-site participants equally and fosters interaction between them. All participants can connect to the tool via their smartphones and type in their questions, which can be upvoted by the other participants. Furthermore, participants will answer a poll in the online interaction tool at the end of the workshop to give a final input about the finding(s) they deem most relevant for the session. The outcomes of this poll will be visualized in a word cloud, which will be incorporated into the session report.