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IGF 2018 LIGHTNING SESSION #15 Internet Platforms, Sexual Content, and Child Protection

Format: Lightning Session - 20 Min

Theme: Human Rights, Gender, & Youth

Subtheme: Child Online Safety

Organizer: Prostasia Foundation

Speaker: Craig Harper, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Short Description: 

Recent advances in research have demonstrated that up to 5% of adult men have pedophilic sexual interests, and many more have lower-level sexual interests in children more generally. The internet has a major role to play in the facilitation and prevention of child sexual abuse. However, many of the policies that are formally or informally adopted by online platforms act as a barrier to help-seeking behaviors, are discriminatory to those non-offending persons with such sexual interests, and in some cases may actively contribute to increasing risk of sexual offending.

This lightning talk will review the available evidence on the prevalence of sexual interests in children, before discussing the extent to which internet companies and social media platforms can play an important role in the prevention of child sexual abuse. It will also outline Prostasia Foundation's plans to convene a multi-stakeholder dialogue between experts and Internet platforms, which will enable industry participants to ensure that their child protection policies and practices are scientifically sound, and that they fulfil their obligations under the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Session Time: 
Tuesday, 13 November, 2018 - 14:40 to 15:00
Theme: 
Human Rights, Gender & Youth
Report: 

Format: Lightning Session - 20 Min

Title: Internet Platforms, Sexual Content, and Child Protection

Date and time: Tuesday, 13 November, 2018 - 14:40 to 15:00

Theme: Human Rights, Gender, and Youth

Subtheme: Child Online Safety

Organizer: Prostasia Foundation

Speaker: Craig Harper, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Please state no more than three (3) key messages of the discussion. [150 words or less]

  1. Pedophilia and sexual interests in children are particularly prevalent in mainstream society
  2. Social isolation and stigmatization are risk factors for sexually abusive behavior
  3. Internet companies and social media platforms can play an important role in the prevention of sexual abuse

Please elaborate on the discussion held, specifically on areas of agreement and divergence: Although encouraged to do so, participants did not ask any questions or contribute towards discussion.

Please describe any policy recommendations or suggestions regarding the way forward/potential next steps: This session will lead into a workshop that Prostasia Foundation will be holding in May 2019 at the offices of Patreon in San Francisco. The event will be a private expert-led seminar and discussion with Internet platforms, along with representatives from marginalized stakeholder groups who are traditionally excluded from such discussions. From this event, a self-selected working group will be formed to work online to synthesize the learnings of the event in a draft, non-normative best practices document. A multi-stakeholder facilitated deliberation will then be held to further distill this draft document into a series of normative recommendations. 

What ideas surfaced in the discussion with respect to how the IGF ecosystem might make progress on this issue? A follow-up workshop will be proposed for the Berlin IGF in 2019 which will report back on the progress made since this initial event. 

Please estimate the total number of participants: 10

Please estimate the total number of women and gender-variant individuals present: 0

To what extent did the session discuss gender issues, and if to any extent, what was the discussion? Child sexual abuse is a gendered problem, affecting about 4 times as many girls as boys. Equally, the perpetrators of child sexual abuse are predominantly male bodied, and men are also more likely to be diagnosed with pedophilic disorder. The session examined the scientific evidence behind the causes of paraphilias that can contribute towards rates of child sexual offending.

Contact Information

United Nations
Secretariat of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

Villa Le Bocage
Palais des Nations,
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland

igf [at] un [dot] org
+41 (0) 229 173 678