Barr, ‘Five Eyes’ nations introduce principles on online child sexual exploitation

getty U.S. Attorney General William Barr

Attorney General William Barr and representatives from the “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing network on Thursday introduced a set of voluntary principles aimed at combating online child sexual exploitation.

The 11 recommendations, co-announced with Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, includes reporting cases to relevant authorities, proactive identification of grooming and publishing data on efforts to curb content.

“For the first time, the Five Countries are collaborating with tech companies to protect children against online sexual exploitation,” Barr said in a statement. “We hope the Voluntary Principles will spur collective action on the part of industry to stop one of the most horrendous crimes impacting some of the most vulnerable members of society.”

In a press conference announcing the principles, Barr said that the internet has amplified the reach and damage of child sexual exploitation content, noting that people can film and disseminate it more easily.

Reports of suspected child sexual abuse material to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children tip line have spiked in the last few years, with more than 69 million photos, videos and files flagged in 2019.

Many of the officials noted that the internet has made child sexual exploitation a borderless problem.

“This global outrage requires a comprehensive global response,” United Kingdom Security Minister James Brokenshire said.

Officials speaking at the press conference also slammed encryption, which makes messages only viewable by their intended recipients, with Barr saying it gives predators “more places to hide.”

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said during the press conference that encryption “like any tool … can be abused.” Brokenshire, meanwhile, called encryption “the elephant in the room.”

The push from law enforcement officials and some lawmakers against encryption comes as more technology giants consider adopting the feature, which privacy groups have lauded as necessary to ensuring free speech online.

Tags Chad Wolf Child abuse Child pornography Child sexual abuse Internet privacy William Barr

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