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Thorn Engages with European Commission to Develop Solutions to Stop the Spread of Child Sexual Abuse Material

February 2, 2022

4 Minute Read

LOS ANGELESFeb. 2, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Julie Cordua, CEO of Thorn, met with European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson last week amidst the Commissioner’s meetings with Silicon Valley tech leaders to discuss proposed EU legislation that would require platforms to do more to prevent child sexual abuse online.

Child sexual abuse material (CSAM) is a global, pervasive problem on the internet, and the European Union is poised to take groundbreaking regulatory action to tackle the urgent issue. Recent research from WeProtect shows that 54% of children across the world have experienced at least one harmful sexual encounter online. Additionally, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) revealed that they had surpassed 100 million received reports of child sexual exploitation—almost all relating to images and videos circulating online of children being sexually abused, with nearly 80% of those files depicting children under the age of 12, according to the Canadian Centre for Child Protection.

Thorn’s mission is to eliminate child sexual abuse from the internet, and the nonprofit has developed tools that help tech companies combat the issue by identifying and removing CSAM from their platforms.

“I am thankful for the great work that Commissioner Johansson and her team are putting into this legislation. The EU is leading the fight against child sexual abuse online and could set standards that will improve the safety of children across the world. We at Thorn applaud the attention they’re giving to this serious and urgent issue and look forward to providing our expertise wherever it is needed,” said Julie Cordua, CEO of Thorn.

In their meeting, Cordua laid out Thorn’s perspective on how lawmakers in the EU can help us to defend children across the world:

  • Make detection, removing, and reporting mandatory: In the United States, platforms are legally required to report CSAM if they find it on their platforms. In the EU, platforms can simply block or delete CSAM without reporting it, meaning perpetrators aren’t held accountable and victims may continue to be abused who would otherwise be identified and removed from harm. Detecting and reporting CSAM to relevant law enforcement or reporting bodies should be mandatory for all EU based internet service providers and platforms. To accomplish this, there needs to be a clear system that avoids duplicate reports to multiple jurisdictions and enables effective collaboration between enforcement bodies at a global scale.
  • Create an EU center that fits into the global child safety ecosystem: The EU needs a centralized entity to streamline and protect the most sensitive data—the documentation of a child’s sexual abuse—while working in partnership with platforms and law enforcement to develop best practices and effective tools to stop the spread of CSAM. The European Union essentially needs its own version of the U.S.’s NCMEC that would seamlessly fit into the global ecosystem while acting as a regional masthead. The efficiency such an entity would provide could greatly increase the removal and reporting of CSAM, disrupting the cycle of trauma of survivors, while accelerating the identification of victims in potential danger. The flow of data is critical in ensuring collaboration across borders to identify child victims and prosecute criminals.
  • Encourage innovation through legislation: Legal certainty on the use of smart and secure technology such as hash-matching, classifiers, and anti-grooming tools is vital, and should be considered fundamental. We must also ensure that innovation is not only legally protected but encouraged in order to meet the rapidly evolving threats in this space. Any new legislation from the EU should allow for innovative tools to be created, tested, and used. We need transparency and safeguards—but not in a way that would make technology useless by providing perpetrators a roadmap to reverse engineering or circumventing solutions. The interim derogation to the ePrivacy directive that was adopted in the EU last summer found a good balance by setting in place prior consultation and greater reporting standards without an overburdensome set of requirements. This balance is important and should be maintained in any long-term legislation.

“Currently, global systems aren’t doing enough to defend children from sexual abuse online. The EU has the power to set new standards for the safety of children, providing a clear legal framework for tech companies that encourages collaboration and innovative solutions. The European Commission could set a global example that will move us closer to universal adoption of the proactive detection, reporting, and removal of CSAM,” continued Cordua. “We need the EU’s leadership to make a long-term commitment, backed with thoughtful legislation, to building a safer internet—one where every child can simply be a kid.”

About Thorn: Thorn is a nonprofit founded in 2012 to build technology to defend children from sexual abuse to eliminate child sex abuse material from the internet. Thorn creates products that identify child victims faster, provides services for the tech industry to play a proactive role in removing abuse content from their platforms, and works directly with youth and communities to build resilient kids. Learn more about Thorn’s mission to build technology to defend children from sexual abuse at

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