Voluntary Principles to Counter Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse

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 Talk, Safe NetworkWellStop and STOP.


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.

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)

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.

New Zealand has a monthly average of 270 incoming referrals 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.

This is a global issue that demands a global response.

Our role

In New Zealand, the Department of Internal Affairs, New Zealand Customs and New Zealand Police work closely together to combat CSEA under a three-agency operating protocol. The agencies also engage closely with industry to address this issue wherever possible, nationally and internationally.

DIA’s Digital Safety Group has a clear focus on enforcement surrounding high harm objectionable publications, depicting child sexual abuse material.

DIA operates the Digital Child Exploitation Filtering system (DCEFS) in partnership with New Zealand internet service providers (ISPs) by offering to protect their customers from accessing these illegal websites inadvertently or otherwise. The DCEFS has more than 600 listed sites for filtering, and on average it stops over 10,000 attempts to access those sites from New Zealand every month.