The Internet knows no borders –complaints hotlines must be well-connected internationally in order to be effective. INHOPE (International Association of Internet Hotlines) is the international umbrella organization of complaints hotlines. It was founded in 1999 as part of the EU Safer Internet Program and eco is one of the founding members. More than 50 complaints hotlines in 45 countries belong to the organization. They use the network to forward complaints about content that is not hosted in their own country. If content is technically stored in a country with an INHOPE member hotline, then the INHOPE regulations stipulate that the report is to be forwarded to the relevant partner hotline.
A network of experts for a safer Internet
One of the prerequisites for a complaints hotline to join the INHOPE network is cooperation with the law enforcement authorities and Internet service providers. The aim of combatting illegal content is, on the one hand, to ensure criminal proceedings are initiated (if a crime has been committed) and, on the other hand, the speedy removal of illegal content at the source by the Internet service provider.
At INHOPE, the lines of communication are short and the contacts are good: The informal exchange of complaints between member hotlines deals quickly with illegal content, usually images of the sexual abuse of minors. Law enforcement authorities are always involved when necessary to ensure that the perpetrators do not get away with what they have done, even long after the reported material can no longer be accessed online.
This procedure works extremely well. The vast majority of countries in which illegal and damaging content is hosted have INHOPE complaints hotlines. The network keeps growing and admits new complaints hotlines every year.
Standards and professional development for complaints hotlines
INHOPE itself is not a complaints hotline, but rather coordinates the work of the member hotlines. The umbrella organization has established minimum standards for the processing of complaints and for the exchange of complaints within the INHOPE network. It also offers regular courses for the staff of complaints hotlines and supports the professional exchange of knowledge and best practices among members in numerous forums.