Success in Taking Down Child Sexual Abuse Material from the Internet: German Complaints Offices are the Most Important Source of Information

  • Take-Down Report 2016: The German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) received 2,721 notifications of child pornography web content

  • Central bridging function: 92% of all notifications of child pornography web content comes from German complaints offices

  • The eco Complaints Office Annual Report documents successful work

Last Thursday, the German federal government published its evaluation report for the year 2016 on the take-down of child sexual abuse material from the Internet. According to this report, 2,721 indications of child sexual abuse material were recorded by the German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) in 2016, with 62% of this content comprising of content hosted abroad. Once again, the take-down report testifies to the effective working methods between the law enforcement agencies and the German complaints offices. The pace of transmission of reported cases from the complaints offices to the BKA was further accelerated in 2016, with the number of hours lowered from 18.8 (2015) to 13.3 in 2016.

Central bridging function: 92% of all indications of child pornography web content comes from German complaints offices

The evaluation report clearly shows that the complaints offices‘ bridging function is proving its long-term worth: In 2016, the BKA received 92% of all notifications of child sexual abuse URLs from the German complaints offices. A mere 1% of all complaints came directly from private individuals.

“The current statistics once again demonstrate the quality of the work that has been occurring for many years now between the complaints offices and the law enforcement agencies on the basis of the principle ‘take down rather than blocking’; a principle which has been consistently advocated over the years by eco. This approach enables not only the rapid removal of illegal content, but also leads to crucial criminal prosecutions. As such, this cooperation between national complaints offices, law enforcement agencies, and Internet service providers should not be tampered with by, for example, regulatory efforts as part of the liability regime, or by resolutions and amendments to existing European laws,” states Alexandra Koch Skiba, Attorney-at-Law and Head of the eco Complaints Office.

eco Complaints Office Annual Report documents successful work: 100% of illegal content involving German URLs is removed

Using an approach based on the voluntary self-regulation of providers and the engagement of Internet users, the eco Complaints Office has been working primarily on a self-financed basis for around 20 years. From the outset, eco has cooperated with law enforcement agencies in the fight against child sexual abuse material and other illegal Internet content. If desired, a report can also be submitted anonymously to the eco Complaints Office, meaning that the service finds favor with those who might have reservations about contacting the police. In 2016, a total of 3,517 complaints (excluding Spam and Usenet) were submitted to the eco Complaints Office, of which 1,564 were justified. Following notification to the eco Complaints Office, illegal Internet content hosted in Germany – such as images of sexual abuse and exploitation, incitement of the masses, or presentation of violence – was 100% removed from the Internet; globally the figure was around 80%. These and other statistics showing the success of all areas of work of the eco Complaints Offices can be found in the current Annual Report 2016.

Further information on the eco Complaints Office can be found under the following link: international.eco.de/internet-complaints-office.html.