Voluntary Principles to Counter Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse

On this page:

The 11 Voluntary Principles

Online child sexual exploitation and abuse online is a growing issue in Aotearoa and globally. In an increasingly digital and borderless world, this crime is becoming easier to commit, more extreme in nature and growing in scale. Online child sexual exploitation and abuse is a global crime that demands a global response. These crimes have a devastating and lasting impact on victims and survivors and digital industry is instrumental in preventing online services and platforms from being used to facilitate online child sexual exploitation and abuse.

These principles provide a common and consistent framework to guide the digital industry in its efforts to help combat the proliferation of online child exploitation. They have been co-designed with industry leaders to be applicable to the wide variety of digital industry and where taken onboard, will assist in preventing online platforms and services from being used to facilitate child sexual exploitation and abuse.

The voluntary principles cover the following areas:

  • prevent child sexual abuse material
  • target online grooming and preparatory behaviour
  • target livestreaming
  • prevent searches from surfacing child sexual abuse material
  • adopt a specialised approach for children
  • consider victim-led mechanisms
  • collaborate and respond to evolving threat.

Voluntary Principles to Counter Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse – full version (PDF, 0.11mbs)

Voluntary Principles to Counter Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse – overview (PDF, 0.1mbs)

Supporting the Principles

We understand that companies will respond to and apply the Voluntary Principles differently depending on their role, technology, the nature of their terms of service and contractual obligations.

We have developed a support pack to guide Aotearoa New Zealand based digital industry on the steps they could take in this area to help mitigate online child sexual abuse material in Aotearoa (and globally) including specific terms and conditions, making reporting functions visible and safety by design.

If you wish to know more about how your company can operationalise the principles to support the global effort to counter online child exploitation and abuse, please contact us at DigitalSafetyMailbox@dia.govt.nz.

Our role

The voluntary principles were developed following an action agreed at the Five Countries Ministerial meeting held in London in July 2019. A working group of officials from New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada then worked in consultation with some of the large technology companies to develop the principles. The Department of Internal Affairs – New Zealand’s representative – worked hard alongside the other countries and company representatives to produce a set of principles that would help to shine a light on this issue and provide some critical guidance to industry in what they can do to help. We continue to collaborate with our five country partners and other governments to support implementation of the principles.

The Department’s Digital Safety Group has a clear focus on enforcement surrounding high harm objectionable publications, depicting child sexual abuse material. Child sexual exploitation and abuse online is a growing worldwide issue due to the increased ease with which such crimes are facilitated and committed in the digital space. There has been a sharp increase in industry referrals of online child exploitation material to the U.S.-based National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) – from 1 million in 2014 to over 18 million in 2018. In 2021, Aotearoa New Zealand received close to 10,000 notifications of possible abuse from NCMEC. This is in addition to referrals from platforms that aren’t required to refer content to NCMEC, and complaints or information provided by members of the public.

Second year anniversary of the Voluntary Principles

On 24 March 2022 the Five Country Ministers issued a statement to mark the two-year anniversary of the Voluntary Principles. The Statement outlines the progress that has been made so far and what further work needs to be done to combat CSEA online.

Five Country Statement on the second anniversary of the Launch of the ‘Voluntary Principles to Counter Online Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PDF 139KB)

Support information

If you are the victim of a child abuse crime, visit Safe to Talk or the Child Abuse: Directory for information and support

If you are concerned about your or someone else’s sexual behaviour, you should contact organisations such as Safe to TalkSafe NetworkWellStop and STOP.

How to report objectionable material

The Department investigates complaints and prosecute people who collect and distribute child abuse material online and ensures publication considered to be objectionable are not available to the public. You can report objectionable material using the complaint form below:

Report objectionable content