An Evaluation of the Rise of Online Sexual Exploitation of Children and Technology: How the Past Three Decades Speak to Future




Newton, Anne Louise

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This thesis analyzes the impact of technological developments from 1987-early 2020 on the growth of online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC). Over the past several decades, the online sexual exploitation of children has exponentially increased to a capacity largely outstepping current legislative structures, law enforcement, and existing countermeasures. In 2018, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reported a record high of child sexual exploitation material (CSEM) reports, totaling 18.4 million reports (NCMEC 2019 report, pp. 5-6). In addition to analyzing the impact of specific technologies, this thesis analyzes how CSEM content has evolved, how demographics of OSEC victims and offenders have changed, and what has been done in response. As a result of this evaluation, this study argues that the majority of the onus in future anti-OSEC efforts rests not primarily on the government but on increasing involvement from electronic service providers and further development of CSEM detection technology.