E2EE Apps Used in Child Sexual Abuse – Interpol

By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan | Published: 2:00 AM Nov 26 2021
News E2EE Apps Used in Child Sexual Abuse – Interpol

By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan 

Interpol says end-to-end encryption (E2EE) apps are being increasingly used for online child-sexual exploitation and distribution and the E2EE prevents service providers from detecting child-sexual abuse and from complying with requests by law enforcement seeking to investigate cases, arrest offenders, and remove child victims from harm. On this, an Interpol General Assembly Resolution was passed yesterday (25), calling for increased safeguards against online-child-sexual exploitation and the challenges faced by the enforcement agencies. 

Through the resolution, member countries expressed their concern at the increased use of E2EE to conceal illicit online crimes against children such as grooming, live streaming of sexual abuse, and the distribution of child-sexual abuse material. The E2EE is a privacy safeguard which ensures that the images, videos, written text and live communications are visible only to the sender and recipient. Following its adoption of the resolution, Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock said: “This issue is often presented as a zero-sum game, privacy versus child protection, but both can be protected. 

With safety by design, service providers can meet privacy obligations and also ensure that new technologies do not come at the cost of child safety.” With this in mind, GA-2021-89- RES-09 calls on member countries to urge E2EE providers to take responsibility for designing products and services which are inherently safe for children and ensure they are able to respond to legal requests to provide law enforcement with relevant information. It also calls for national legislation and policy which enables law enforcement to prevent and respond to online child sexual abuse on these platforms. 

The resolution, which was overwhelmingly endorsed by delegates, was initiated by the Republic of Korea and Interpol’s Crimes Against Children Unit, and developed by a multinational Working Party under the Interpol Specialists Group on Crimes Against Children. Yong Hwan Lim, Director General for Foreign Affairs of the Korean National Police Agency (KNPA), said: “Last year, the KNPA carried out a major investigation against a sextortion ring operating out of an E2EE platform. This newly-passed resolution is just one way to demonstrate that our fight against online child-sexual exploitation does not end when a case is solved. 

The experience gained from this investigation led us to approach the international policing community - via Interpol - to make the digital space safer for children.” This resolution reinforces Interpol’s long-standing commitment to combating offences against children, and adds to previous resolutions related to this crime area: Resolution AG-2014-RES-02 improving international notifications and information sharing regarding travelling child sex offenders by using Interpol’s green notices (2014), Resolution AG-2011-RES-08 promoting victim-centric management of child abuse material at the national level (2011), and Resolution AG-2011- RES-05 addressing online child sexual abuse through a legislative global engagement strategy (2011).

By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan | Published: 2:00 AM Nov 26 2021

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