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Source: New Zealand Government

Internal Affairs and Children’s Minister Tracey Martin has joined leaders from the Five Country Ministerial Group and representatives of digital industry in launching a set of principles to guide industry action on countering online child sexual abuse and exploitation.

Members of the Five Country Ministerial Group – UK Minister of State for Security James Brokenshire, Australian Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton, Canadian Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair, US Attorney General William P Barr, Acting Secretary for Homeland Security Chad Wolf and Minister Martin – met in Washington DC for the launch today.  The development of these principles was a key action arising from the Five Country Ministerial meeting in July 2019 in London.

“Online child sexual exploitation is a serious global issue, and sadly New Zealand is not immune,” says Minister Martin.

“As the world becomes more interconnected through advances in digital technology, our most vulnerable become more at risk from predators.

“Those who engage in online child exploitation work to get around current barriers and regulations, despite the best efforts and hard work of the digital industry. This is a global crime that demands a global response from government, industry and society.”

The voluntary principles were developed in close consultation between the Five Countries and digital industry.  These principles provide a common and consistent framework to guide the digital industry in its efforts to help us to combat the proliferation of online child exploitation. The principles have been designed to be applicable to the wide variety of digital industry, and where taken onboard, will assist in preventing online platforms and services from being used to facilitate child sexual exploitation and abuse.

The principles aim to:

  • Prevent child sexual abuse material
  • Target online grooming and preparatory behaviour
  • Target livestreaming
  • Prevent searches from surfacing child sexual abuse material
  • Adopt a specialised approach for children
  • Consider victim-led mechanisms
  • Collaborate and respond to evolving threat.

“New Zealand is committed to combatting online child exploitation and working with other nations, NGOs, and the digital industry in this work,” Mrs Martin said. “I am pleased to be part of this significant milestone, as the voluntary principles are launched.

“Working with my colleagues from the Five Countries and the digital industry has ensured we have a set of principles that are robust, flexible, and most importantly, will create effective responses.

“The safety of our children is paramount, especially with so many of them able to access the internet and inadvertently put themselves at risk.”

Contact: Richard Ninness 021 892 536
Notes for editors:

Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (CSEA) online is a growing worldwide issue due to the increased ease with which such crimes are committed in the digital space. There has been a sharp increase in industry referrals of online child exploitation material to the U.S. based National Center for Exploited and Missing Children (NCMEC) – from 1 million in 2014 to over 18 million in 2018. New Zealand has a monthly average of 270 incoming referrals from NCMEC.  This is in addition to referrals from platforms that aren’t required to refer content to NCMEC and complaints or information provided by members of the public.

In New Zealand, the Department of Internal Affairs, New Zealand Customs and New Zealand Police work closely together to combat CSEA under a three-agency operating protocol.  The agencies also engage closely with industry to address this issue wherever possible, nationally and internationally. 

The Department of Internal Affairs has a Digital Safety Group focused on enforcement surrounding high harm objectionable publications, depicting child sexual abuse material.

The Department operates the Digital Child Exploitation Filtering system (DCEFS) in partnership with NZ ISPs by offering to protect their customers from accessing these illegal websites inadvertently or otherwise.   The DCEFS has more than 600 listed sites for filtering, and stops over 10,000 attempts to access those sites from New Zealand every month.