Global Report

Transparency Reporting on Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Online


ISPCAN Resources

Focus of this Report

This is the first OECD benchmarking report examining the policies and procedures related to child sexual exploitation and abuse (CSEA) of the world’s top-50 global online content-sharing services. The report builds on three previous OECD benchmarking reports examining terrorist and violent extremist content (TVEC), applying the methodology to another form of online abuse that is widely criminalized and recognized to be a serious societal challenge. As with the TVEC reports, this CSEA report provides an objective, factual snapshot in time of current practices, providing evidence that not only facilitates better understanding of the services’ relevant policies and procedures, but also of the extent and comparability of their transparency reporting. CSEA in this context – following the approach advocated by the WeProtect Global Alliance – refers to the sexual exploitation and abuse of children that is partly or entirely facilitated by technology. Online CSEA includes the production or dissemination of child sexual abuse material online, the livestreaming of child sexual abuse, and the use of technology to make contact with potential child victims online with the intention of sexual exploitation. CSEA can take place not just online but offline, in the physical world. However, the digital environment has become an enabling environment that makes it easier for offenders to produce, store and distribute child sexual abuse material and to connect with children to engage in exploitation through digital means. CSEA is an urgent and prominent policy challenge for which there have been several high-level calls to action. G7 Ministers have called attention to the devastating impact CSEA can have on victims and on societies and have called on digital service providers to prioritize protecting children, especially from illegal and harmful content and activity. The scale of the increase in reports of CSEA has been alarming. In 2022, the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) received more than 31.8 million reports of CSEA around the world through its CyberTipline, an increase from 21.7 million reports in 2020. Each report is an instance of apparent CSEA comprising one or more unique pieces of content. While the increase is in part attributable to better detection methods, international agencies including INTERPOL have expressed concern that CSEA continues to expand in scale and severity, potentially overwhelming the ability of law enforcement to effectively respond. This report presents a baseline study of the policies, procedures and practices that the top-50 global online content-sharing services deploy in relation to CSEA on their platforms and services. The research is based on an analysis of the publicly available policies and other governance materials, including transparency reports (TRs), issued by the services. Following the methodology established for the benchmarking of TVEC policies, this report includes profiles for each service that summarize whether and how CSEA is defined in the relevant terms of service (ToS) or other standards, the service’s policies on detection and removal of CSEA, its content moderation methods, the availability of notification and appeals procedures, the issuance of TRs and evidence of the extent to which the service has been exploited for CSEA purposes


Global Report Date:

September 11, 2023




Online Child Exploitation
Transparency Reporting on Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Online

Research Objectives:

Scope, methodology and research design
This report examines the policies, procedures and practices that the top-50 global online content-sharing services deploy in relation to CSEA on their platforms and services. The report mirrors the approach developed and adopted for the OECD benchmarking of policies and practices regarding TVEC on the same top-50 services.
Commonalities, developments and trends in the services’ approach to CSEA
Includes findings on the main trends, commonalities and divergences among the global top50 online content-sharing services in how they address CSEA. The data for this analysis is derived from profiles compiled for each service
International initiatives to combat CSEA
CSEA is recognised as one of the most serious challenges that the digital environment poses to children’s online safety. The apparent ease with which digital services can be misused to propagate extremely harmful material such as child sexual abuse and the way platforms can be exploited by abusers to gain access to children have given rise to significant concern among governments, law enforcement, the Internet industry and child safeguarding organizations
Existing and emerging laws and regulations on CSEA online
International initiatives have sought to secure a consistent approach to legislation and criminalisation of sexual offences perpetrated against children through the use of digital technologies. Lawmakers are incorporating enhanced measures in civil laws to halt the spread of CSEA through digital platforms and services. Laws to criminalise CSEA predate the Internet, though the increased prevalence and complexity through the proliferation of digital technologies has created the need for new legal frameworks.
Report Conclusions
The report has found that there is a fragmented response by online content-sharing services to this complex and evolving problem. While no provider wishes to see illegal content or conduct on their service, the extent to which there is a public-facing policy setting out the principles, the specific definitions, and the way such policies are to be enforced varies considerably among the top global platforms

Authored By:

OECD Digital Economy Papers
The OECD Directorate for Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) undertakes a wide range of activities to better understand how information and communication technologies (ICTs) contribute to sustainable economic growth and social well-being. The OECD Digital Economy Papers series covers a broad range of ICT-related issues and makes selected studies available to a wider readership. They include policy reports, which are officially declassified by an OECD Committee, and occasional working papers, which are meant to share early knowledge.