Online Child Sexual Exploitation – Five Eyes Initiatives

Classification: Unclassified
Fully releasable (ATIP)? Yes
Branch / Agency: CSCCB


Five Eyes Voluntary Principles to Counter Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse.

Proposed Response:


The Five Country Ministerial meeting in July 2019 in London included a joint session with digital industry representatives (Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Roblox, Snap, and Twitter) to discuss the role digital industry plays in combating online CSE on their platforms. One of the outcomes of the meeting was an agreement among the Five Eyes that government officials would work with digital industry to develop a set of voluntary principles to guide private sector efforts in this regard.

The Voluntary Principles were officially announced by the Five Eyes at an event in Washington, DC on March 5, 2020. In parallel, digital industry partners involved in the development of the Voluntary Principles, as well as additional industry stakeholders, issued statements of support for the Voluntary Principles. In addition to the original six who have endorsed the Voluntary Principles, other key industry stakeholders such as TikTok, Amazon and Match have also endorsed. The intent is that the principles will be adopted by a wide spectrum of companies, provide a shared framework to combat online CSE, drive collective action, establish a baseline standard for safety, and complement initiatives specific to each partner country.

Five Eyes partners are engaging on a regular basis to discuss ongoing implementation of the Voluntary Principles, including strategies to further promote their adoption, enhance their meaningful implementation and promote industry transparency. In March 2021, Five Eyes government officials, industry and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) participated in a roundtable to discuss the ongoing implementation of the Voluntary Principles. Five Eyes officials, industry and NGOs agreed that in order to drive meaningful change and become an industry standard, more industry players, NGOs and other countries need to endorse the Voluntary Principles. All agreed on the need for Governments to continue to engage constructively with industry and non-governmental stakeholders to promote further adoption of the Voluntary Principles as well as enhanced transparency, information sharing and collaboration, in order to combat this crime effectively. The outcomes of the roundtable will feed into the upcoming Five Country Ministerial virtual meeting to take place in early April 2021.

Industry Response to Voluntary Principles

Since the launch of the Voluntary Principles in March 2020, the digital industry took some key steps to implement them. For example in Spring 2020 and Winter 2021, a group of industry stakeholders released some ads to raise awareness of dangers stemming from kids spending more time online as a result of measures to stop the COVID pandemic. In Spring 2020, the Technology Coalition, a group of industry stakeholders who develop solutions to combat online CSE and includes many of the companies of who have endorsed the Voluntary Principles, announced Project Protect. This project outlines the Technology Coalition’s plan to enhance efforts to combat online CSE and implement the Voluntary Principles. Finally, in December 2020, the original six industry players involved in the development of the Voluntary Principles released the Guide for tech companies considering supporting the “Voluntary Principles to Counter Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse”, which provides guidance for smaller companies on how to implement the Voluntary Principles.

The voluntary nature of the Voluntary Principles ultimately means that only companies who see a role for them and/or are interested in stepping up will decide to endorse them. To address this issue, Five Eyes partners and other industry stakeholders are engaging with industry players individually to raise awareness of the Voluntary Principles and highlight how they can be used by a wide range of stakeholders. In addition, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection will soon issue a report highlighting individual company response to online child sexual exploitation, based on data from Project Arachnid. This report could help raise awareness among the general public about the industry response to this crime and be used by Governments and NGOs to further promote the Voluntary Principles.

In addition, in early 2020 the WeProtect Global Alliance (WPGA), an international organization responsible for the promotion of the Voluntary Principles and previously entirely funded by the UK government, transitioned to become an international non-governmental organization. Since then, WPGA has been focused on their internal decision-making and governance, which limited their active promotion of the Voluntary Principles. Going forward, it is expected that WPGA will play an enhanced role in the promotion and dissemination of the Voluntary Principles. Ultimately, should these measures to promote the Voluntary Principles not bear fruit, Governments may rely on legal and regulatory approaches to ensure industry takes actions to combat online child sexual exploitation.


Prepared by: Mathilde Brière-Audet, Senior Policy Advisor, 613-302-3277
Approved by: Talal Dakalbab, Assistant Deputy Minister, Community Safety and Countering Crime Branch, 613-852-1167

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