The International Center La Strada is currently hosting an international platform for communication between central authorities and public institutions in the field of information security and cyber security, in order to identify the possibilities of launching the first online service for reporting child sexual abuse material (CSAM) in Moldova.
The event is taking place under the aegis of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, with the support of the U.S. Embassy in Chisinau, in partnership with INHOPE – the global network to combat CSAM.
The round table is attended by representatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Infrastructure and Regional Development, regulatory authority for the electronic communications services market (ANRCETI), representatives of state institutions with mandate in the field of investigation and combating cybercrime, as well as civil society organizations.
Daniella Misail-Nichitin, State Secretary, Ministry of Internal Affairs:
“The protection of children is the basis of a healthy society. Today’s event is an opportunity to launch inter-institutional, multi-disciplinary and multi-national dialogue. Only through synchronized efforts and sustainable partnerships between state institutions, the private sector (internet and ICT providers) and civil society can we improve the mechanisms for investigating and combating cybercrime, information and cyber security, in order to have a safer online environment for children and citizens.
“Joint actions should be focused on preventing offenses/crimes and informing society about any form of sexual abuse of children, investigating and documenting the committed acts, ensuring the victim’s access to specialized protection and rehabilitation services throughout the process. By the end of this year, we intend to have a platform for reporting illegal content, images that represent child sexual abuse and content that is harmful to children. The regulatory framework, as well as public policy documents, must be improved and aligned with international standards.
“I would like to thank the U.S. Embassy in Chisinau, the International Center La Strada and INHOPE for their sustainable partnership and support in the field of preventing and combating child sexual abuse and exploitation.”
Samantha Woolfe, INHOPE’s Head of Global Partnerships and Network Expansion:
“International statistics show that during the pandemic, child sexual abuse became more frequent and more serious, with children of ever younger ages being abused in ever more serious forms. In this context, the involvement of state institutions and the private sector is essential for the creation of the Hotline service for reporting and removing child sexual abuse material from the internet.
“It is important to remember that none of us present here can act alone trying to respond to reports, remove child sexual abuse material or identify abusers. It takes a collective effort. No interested party can work alone. It is important that all responsible actors get involved, analyze and collaborate. We, INHOPE representatives, are here to share our expertise, and we have seen from previous meetings that the development of this service is an important action for the state authorities and the private sector, as well as for the non-governmental sector in Moldova.”
Brett Rose, Director of Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Division, U.S. Embassy in Chisinau:
“I am proud that at this crucial moment, when a strategic partnership is emerging to counter child sexual abuse online, the U.S. Embassy has the opportunity to reconfirm its strong commitment and full support for a much-needed initiative.
“A service to block and remove child sexual abuse material from the internet is especially necessary now, during the pandemic. I see this initiative as a continuation and perfect complement to the partnership under the project ‘Strengthening the capacity of Moldova to address the online sexual exploitation and abuse of children’, implemented by La Strada in partnership with the National Institute of Justice and the U.S. Embassy.”
Elena BOTEZATU, Executive Director of La Strada:
“We are here today to see how we can initiate the process of creating a Hotline service that exists and works successfully in more than 40 countries of the world. The creation of a service for reporting and removing child sexual abuse material is a priority reflected in public policy documents aimed at the online safety of children. Such a service will help not only streamline investigative and prosecution actions. The Hotline service will allow any citizen to report online, anonymously, images and videos that they suspect may be illegal. But even more importantly, it will be an effective and operative mechanism, because it would help us a lot to reduce the risks of revictimizing children that appear in illegal materials online. I believe that today’s dialogue will help us understand how we can shape a sustainable partnership between law enforcement, the private sector and the entity that will manage the Hotline service, which are the options for effective collaboration for the safety and wellbeing of children.”
Since 2014, Moldova has committed to create and implement a legal framework for preventing and combating sexual abuse and exploitation of children, as a member of WeProtect Global Alliance. One of the actions recommended by this international body was to develop and ensure the functionality of a special hotline service for reporting allegedly illegal material, including material representing child sexual abuse. At the same time, the National Action Plan on promoting online safety of children and adolescents for 2017-2020 aimed to reduce the amount of illegal online content representing children, by developing a CSAM reporting mechanism. Unfortunately, to date, this mechanism has not yet been created.