About our SID activities
ECPAT International is working to end the sexual exploitation of children worldwide; through prostitution; trafficking; child marriages; online and in the context of travel and tourism. We advocate for a stronger legal environment to protect children; we raise awareness among the public about the issue; we partner with businesses to prevent their services from being misused; we research to better understand this crime and we help survivors to come to terms with what has happened to them – and better understand their rights.
What we are doing to support the SID 2021 slogan of "Together for a better internet"…
Never before has it been easier for perpetrators to make contact with children, share images of abuse, hide their identity and profits – and inspire each other to commit further crimes. Online sexual exploitation most commonly includes grooming, live-streaming, consuming child sexual abuse material (CSAM), and coercing and blackmailing children for sexual purposes. And today, as young people are increasingly using the internet to connect with peers and explore their sexuality, exploitation can also take the form of offenders leaking pictures taken by children themselves that were initially shared with trusted peers.
It’s important to remember that behind every image, video or screen, there is a real child being sexually exploited. Online abuse can scar victims emotionally and physically for a lifetime, and the child can potentially be re-victimised millions of times – every time an image is watched, sent or received.
Identifying and investigating offenders is difficult, and is made even more so by technologies that enable them to avoid detection. There is ongoing debate within tech companies, governments and civil society around the balance between privacy and protection, including in relation to encryption. We fully recognise that users of online services have a legitimate interest in ensuring their data is protected, however, children have the right to protection and privacy too. And encryption tools make it significantly harder to investigate cases of online sexual abuse and exploitation.
That is why we are advocating for tech companies to keep child protection a priority, even as e-Privacy laws evolve and tech companies are increasingly moving to encrypt their services. And this Safer Internet Day, we are sharing more information about what we know, and what we can do to better protect children. The question is not about privacy or protection, but about how to find the right balance that ensures both.
ECPAT is a network of over 120 civil-society organisations in over 100 countries working together to combat this violation of children's rights through prevention, protection, advocacy and research.
The ECPAT International Secretariat, based in Bangkok, Thailand, provides technical support and information and organises events for its members to extend and exchange knowledge. The Secretariat also represents and advocates on key issues at the international and regional levels together with and on behalf of the network.