The Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT) approved a project to form a work group that includes law enforcement entities affiliated to the Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT) members, alongside its private and public sector partners. This project aims at reviewing the child abuse reporting mechanisms and identifying the latest criminal methods to prevent the growing availability of harmful child sexual abuse materials online.

During the meeting that concluded on Thursday in the Colombian city of Cartagena, the Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT) expressed its concern over the increasing and alarming numbers of reports of child sexual abuse material online received by international law enforcement agencies.

In their final statement, the VGT members indicated that reports of child sexual abuse material online received by international law enforcement agencies have doubled in 2015, and are expected to increase even further during 2016 and 2017 all over the world. They stressed the need for concerted efforts from law enforcement agencies, as well as private and public welfare organizations.

The Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT) cited the example provided by one of its member countries. According to the US law, internet providers are required to notify authorities about the availability of harmful child sexual abuse material on their servers through the toll-free number of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), a public non-profit organization, which in turn, seeks regularly to identify the source of such harmful photos or video material, using modern techniques. This would allow US law enforcement agencies refer to these sources in their investigations to convict offenders.

Major General Dr. Nasser Lakhrebani Al Nuaimi, Secretary General of the Office of HH Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior and Chairman of the Virtual Global Taskforce, said: “The availability of harmful child sexual abuse material online represents a growing source of concern to members of the Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT). We are aware of the different forums and groups that promote this type of material on illegal internet networks. Members of the Virtual Global Taskforce understand the major challenge that this represents, in their quest to follow-up on the received reports, with the ongoing technical development worldwide. We consider this issue to be a societal problem that requires a comprehensive review in order to come up with the adequate solutions”.

Adding further, Major General Al Nuaimi said: “Members of the public must understand the impact of such behaviors. We, at the Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT), will do whatever it takes to save and protect children from online exploitation.” He also noted that internet networks may not offer as much privacy as users think. “Some people have a poor understanding of social media, and children tend to reveal private information about their lives,” he continued.

Major General Al Nuaimi noted that the VGT will continue to draw on its successes to further activate the role of law enforcement agencies and their concerted efforts. He added that the UAE will continue mobilizing the world, the public opinion as well as awareness-raising institutions, in a bid to reinforce concerted efforts in the field child protection against all forms of abuse.  Moreover, he praised the achievements of the current chair and the different members of VGT and commended the collaborative efforts of member countries to protect children against abuse. He noted that the work group will examine new ideas and approaches in the upcoming months; the first initiatives in this regard are expected to commence by the end of this year.

It is worth mentioning that the UAE is at the forefront of regional and international countries that lead the fight against cybercrime, especially in the field of child protection from abuse. The UAE Federal Law on children’s rights (Wadeema Law) requires telecommunication companies and internet service providers to notify the competent authorities or concerned parties about any exchanges of child pornography material online.

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