No ‘Magic Bullets’ in the Fight Against Online Abuse, but ‘Spiders’ Help

The New York Times

December 22, 2019

By Gabriel J.X. Dance

Sexual predators have grown increasingly adept at using the internet to share and view child sexual abuse photos and videos. Some have computer-programming skills and have deployed sophisticated defenses against efforts to take them down.

But the predators don’t have free rein on the internet, thanks to nearly four dozen child protection hotlines around the world, which act as a first line of defense against the explosion of imagery.

The hotlines play a central role in getting tech companies, websites and others to address the content. When the hotlines become aware of an illegal image, they issue a notice to have it removed. They may also notify law enforcement officials, who can launch a criminal investigation and try to rescue the abused child.

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