The hotlines of the world proposed the removal of 400 thousand pieces of child sexual abuse material last year

Published: 25 May 2023

INHOPE, the international association combating child sexual exploitation, published its 2022 Annual Report. Last year, its member hotlines—including the Internet Hotline, the online information and assistance service of the National Media and Infocommunications Authority (NMHH), which has been operating since 2011—investigated more than 587,000 reports from all over the world, of which 400,000 were found to be illegal. Nine out of ten recordings showed children below the age of 13, most of them girls, and most of the child sexual abuse material (CSAM) was hostedon US and Dutch servers.

INHOPE (International Association of Internet Hotlines) was formed in 1999 with the aim of reducing the spread of CSAM accessible on the internet and bringing together hotlines from around the world. The data published in the annual report are based on ICCAM, the database operated by the association and also used by INTERPOL.

In the fight against the sexual exploitation of children, it is particularly important that content portraying child sexual abuse distributed over the internet is brought to the attention of law enforcement agencies as soon as possible. At the same time, making such content inaccessible without delay is also crucial, because as long as it is accessible to anyone, the rights and dignity of victims are constantly violated. Victims become victims again with every view and download. INHOPE pursues this dual objective, with a total of 50 member hotlines participating in its mission by 2022, and the NMHH Internet Hotline since 2012.

The report shows that last year, exactly 587,852 pieces of content (URLs) of suspected CSAM reported to ICCAM were examined by more than 200 content analysts from the INHOPE member hotlines. This represents a significant drop (of 36.7 per cent) compared to 2021, when the number of content examined exceeded 900,000. The change is explained by the fact that the extremely high number of reports received in the pandemic years 2020 and 2021 fell last year at global level, with the lifting of the pandemic restrictions.Of the content examined by INHOPE in 2022, 68% was found to be truly illegal.

Based on the experience of INHOPE member hotlines’ analysts, the number of abuses related to children’s self-made pictures (SGC – self-generated content) remained high in 2022. Especially among adolescents (7–13-year-olds), there is a widespread practice of taking intimate pictures and videos of themselves, which are later misused by others. While 77 per cent of children in 2020 and 82 per cent in 2021 were under 13 years of age, the proportion rose to 88.8 per cent in 2022.

The summary also shows that female children are much more vulnerable to sexual exploitation: in 2022, 91% of reported infringing materials depicted girls, 7% depicted boys, and the remaining 2% depicted both girls and boys. It is important to stress, however, that in 2021, 96% of the recordings were of girls, which clearly shows that the involvement of male children in sexual exploitation is on the rise.

According to INHOPE’s annual report, most CSAM globally continues to be hosted on servers in the US and the Netherlands. Statistics show that hosting sites in Hungary are not popular among criminals who distribute child sexual abuse content.

INHOPE asks users everywhere not to ignore CSAM if they come across it, but to report it—even anonymously—to the hotline in their country. Hungarian internet users may file reports through the Internet Hotline’s online webform or via the e-mail address.

In June, Internet Hotline will publish its most detailed annual report to date, including its annual results for 2022.

INHOPE’s Annual Report 2022 is accessible here: