Innovative measures to battle child sexual abuse in dark web

CSAM searches on TOR directed to a Save the Children self-help programme to battle child abuse

To protect children against sexual violence and abuse, Finnish Hotline Nettivihje team of Save the Children Finland set out to seek innovative measures and produced an online self-help programme which was recently uploaded on Tor to battle child abuse. The self-help programme is meant for those concerned about their sexual interest in children to offer information and support in controlling the thoughts, feelings and behaviour that stem from this interest.

The innovative way to reach out to those who might harbour sexual thoughts about children and seek illegal material on anonymous Tor functions as follows: When a user types in certain keywords indicating the aim of seeking child sexual abuse material (CSAM), the user is provided with an option to examine their urges with the help of the self-help programme. The users themselves make the decision whether to proceed to the webpage that offers help. The outcome so far seems highly promising: During the first days of December 2018-January 2019, over 1700 visitors were directed to the programme. The innovation is ground-breaking: As far as is known, it is one of a kind innovation to deliver help available precisely there where the problem is, on the dark nets.

The self-help programme was produced in collaboration with the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa, Mielenterveystalo.fi (mentalhub.fi) and the Training Institute for Prison and Probation Service. The project initiated by Save the Children Finland is part of an EU funded Safer Internet Centre Finland operations, and the technical side of the innovation was designed and implemented by an information security specialist Juha Nurmi from Ahmia. This innovation is also part of Finnish Hotline Nettivihje of Save the Children Finland overall work to battle sexual violence against children as a global public health problem and a serious crime the prevention of which is vital.

Further information:

Nina Vaaranen-Valkonen
Senior Advisor, Hotline manager
nina.vaaranen-valkonen@savethechildren.fi
Save the Children, Finland