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Hotline development support

This online guide is designed to:

  • Inform a wide range of organisations about Internet hotlines and their essential role in forming a comprehensive national response to online child sexual exploitation and abuse. These include:
    • Any organisation interested in setting up an Internet Hotline
    • NGO’s
    • Government
    • Law Enforcement
    • Industry
    • International partners
    • Grant-giving organizations and funders
    • Public
  • Advise organisations that are considering or are already planning to set up an Internet Hotline about the main requirements and considerations
  • Recommend good practice in relation to the hotline status, structure, operations and inter-institutional relationship
  • Connect potential hotline operators with:
    • Hotline development support available from the INHOPE Foundation
    • Experienced INHOPE member hotlines around the world
    • Leading initiatives and support available from law enforcement, NGOs, the private sector and governmental partners around the world

Key Partners in Hotline Development – UNICEF

UNICEF is the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund, a leading humanitarian and development agency working globally for the rights of every child.

UNICEF is active in more than 190 countries, territories and areas through country programmes and National Committees. To achieve its goals, UNICEF works in partnership with governments, civil society, business, academia and the United Nations family – and especially children and young people.

UNICEF works on a number of priority issues to further the rights of every child, including:

  • HIV/AIDS and children
  • Child survival and development
  • Child protection
  • Basic education and gender equality
  • Policy advocacy and partnerships

As part of its commitments to the protection of children from violence, exploitation and abuse, UNICEF began several years ago to address the abuse and exploitation of children through Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs). Its cooperation with the private sector to promote child online protection as part of business and corporate social responsibly frameworks has played a crucial role in highlighting the diverse ways in which business can impact upon the rights of children. You will find more information on UNICEF’s work in relation to child rights and Internet on the UNICEF website. In addition, following the ground-breaking #WePROTECT children online summit held in London and hosted by the UK government in December 2014, UNICEF agreed to develop and manage a Global Fund to help deliver on the global commitments made at the Summit to identify and protect more child victims of online child abuse.

As part of the programme of national, regional and international projects funded by the Global Fund in 2015-2016, UNICEF and INHOPE entered into a partnership to build capacity in relation to existing and future Internet hotlines dedicated to the removal of Child Sexual Abuse Material from public access on the Internet.

Through its global network of country and regional offices, its global thematic programmes, and within partnerships including the Global Partnership to End Violence against Children, UNICEF is committed to a world where every child grows up free from violence and exploitation. Understanding and responding to the positive and negative impact of ICTs and the Internet on children is an ever more important part of achieving this vision.

Key Partners in Hotline Development – GSMA

The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting nearly 800 operators with more than 250 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset and device makers, software companies, equipment providers and Internet companies, as well as organisations in adjacent industry sectors.

As part of its commitment to Public Policy, the GSMA coordinated the founding of the Mobile Alliance Against Child Sexual Abuse Content by an international group of mobile operators within the GSMA. Its purpose was to work collectively on obstructing the use of the mobile environment by individuals or organisations wishing to consume or profit from child sexual abuse content.

The Alliance’s aim is to help stem, and ultimately reverse, the growth of online child sexual abuse content around the world. Through a combination of technical measures, co-operation and information sharing, the Alliance seeks to create significant barriers to the misuse of mobile networks and services for hosting, accessing, or profiting from child sexual abuse content.

Collaboration between industry, law enforcement, and Hotline organisations enables effective, coordinated action to be taken to combat child sexual abuse content. Governments need to ensure that they have provided the necessary legal clarity for these parties to work effectively against the presence of child sexual abuse content in the digital world.

As part of these collaborative efforts, GSMA spearheaded the creation of the guide “Hotlines: Responding to reports of illegal online content”. This guide is the principle source document for this online guide.

You will find more information about the Mobile Alliance Against Child Sexual Abuse Content, and to find out about GSMA’s public policy work in general on the GSMA website.

Key Partners in Hotline Development: Child Helpline International


Child Helpline International Foundation (CHI) is the global network of 183 members in 142 countries (December 2015), which together receive over 14 million contacts a year from children and young people in need of care and protection.

CHI supports the creation and strengthening of national toll-free child helplines worldwide, and uses child helpline data and knowledge to highlight gaps in child protection systems and advocate for the rights of children.

CHI is one of the world’s largest collective impact organisations, a network of organisations that listen and help children and young people in around 145 countries. CHI coordinates the movement’s global and regional advocacy, facilitates knowledge transfer, capacity building and communication amongst its child helpline members, influences policy and works with other global and regional organisation to improve children’s lives.

Since its founding in 2003, CHI has advocated for the rights of children and young people around the world, a community of 2.5 billion. CHI has supported the creation and strengthening of child helplines, and has enhanced their recognition as an essential part of child protection systems. Child helplines are crucial players in system transformation, whether the helplines are in countries where child protection systems are non-existent or weak, or where those systems are stronger and more sophisticated. Child helplines give children and young people a voice. In listening to children, child helplines generate data on contacts to the helplines that identify the most pressing issues in children’s lives. The data collected over the last 12 years confirm that violence against children is the most frequent and consistent reason for children and young people contacting helplines around the world.

More than any other child protection service, child helplines have direct access to invaluable insights on children’s lives. Children and young people all over the world contact child helplines to express their fears, worries, thoughts and concerns. Helplines are easy to access, safe, secure, trustworthy and free of charge.

For more information, visit:


‘Child Helplines’ and ‘Internet Hotlines’

The importance of the thematic focus and work of Child Helpline International is reflected in Capability #11 of the Model National Response.

CHI and INHOPE work in cooperation to support local partners and build capacity to respond to online child sexual exploitation and abuse. They do this through the establishment and strengthening of child helplines and internet hotlines as distinct services with distinct target audiences but with a shared contribution to make to the building of a national response to online child sexual exploitation and abuse.

Key Partners in Hotline Development – ECPAT International


ECPAT International is a global network of organisations working together for the elimination of child prostitution, child pornography (child sexual abuse material) and the trafficking of children for sexual purposes. It seeks to ensure that children everywhere enjoy their fundamental rights free and secure from all forms of commercial sexual exploitation.
ECPAT works towards the end of commercial sexual exploitation of children in four main ways:

  • End Child Prostitution
  • End trafficking of children for sexual purposes
  • End child pornography (child sexual abuse material)
  • End child sex tourism

In its work to end child sexual abuse material, ECPAT advocates for:

Strong legal frameworks to end the production and distribution of child pornography
In many countries child sexual abuse material offences are not yet adequately covered through legislation. An effective way to reduce the consumption of child sexual abuse material is to attach a criminal consequence to the conduct of each participant in the chain, from production to possession. This includes ensuring that child victims have the right to claim compensation from those involved in the production, distribution and possession the offence.

ECPAT works with global stakeholders to advocate for legal reform based on the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its optional protocols, promoting international standards with policy makers and practitioners. Regional legal frameworks like the Lanzarote Convention, the Budapest Convention and the AU Convention on Cyber Security, as well as international legal frameworks like ILO Convention 182 and OPSC can serve as an examples to help develop stronger legal frameworks in relation to sexual exploitation of children online at the national level. ECPAT shares research and new developments with regards to the online sexual exploitation of children and collaborates with experts from various disciplines to protect the rights of the child.

ECPAT’s country monitoring reports assess the existing legislation and the progress made in each country, best practices and policies related to private sector entities and also examine the range of initiatives related to child protection and support services required for their comprehensive safeguards and development. The reports also provide extensive recommendations for strengthening legislation, implementation and services.

Technical measures to eliminate, disrupt or reduce the availability of child sexual abuse material
ECPAT works with leading global actors in the technology sector, law enforcement, government and other child rights agencies to develop and implement adequate responses to prevent children from exploitation online.

Private Sector Partnerships

In many countries, law enforcement struggle to keep on top of the availability of child pornography and the numbers of people involved in downloading or exchanging it over the Internet. With the growing use of certain tools or services online, such as cloud computing and encryption software like TOR, it is now even more difficult to identify offenders as they engage in sexual exploitation anonymously using these tools to hide their conduct. It has become clear that in order to eliminate child sexual abuse material, law enforcement needs help from the private sector to cope with its scale. ECPAT encourages the technology sector needs to take a lead in the matter. ECPAT works with information and technology companies and Internet service providers to ensure that children’s rights are considered in the development of their products and services. This includes support in the development of user guidelines, safety policies and practices and analysing how their services can impact children online and create potential safety risks.

ECPAT also encourages private sector developments that advance online child protection mechanisms. This includes the development and implementation of technology tools to detect and remove child abuse materials from circulation like filtering and blocking measures which can be complemented with the use of splash pages to further deter users from trying to access child sexual abuse material online. Other examples include PhotoDNA, which was developed by Microsoft and designed to detect child sexual abuse materials, or the use of IP-tracking to identify the user and/or location of a subject party’s IP address.


Multi-stakeholder cooperation

In addition, ECPAT collaborates with a number of partners, including INHOPE, to support the development of hotlines to respond to the online sexual exploitation and abuse of children, in particular child sexual abuse material.


More information

Key Partners in Hotline Development – The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s (NCMEC) CyberTipline® receives leads and tips regarding suspected crimes of sexual exploitation committed against children. More than 8.5 million reports of suspected child sexual exploitation have been made to the CyberTipline between 1998 and March 2016. NCMEC serves in the clearinghouse role of disseminating the information submitted to law enforcement.

Reports to the CyberTipline are submitted by the public and Electronic Service Providers (ESPs). ESPs in the United States are required by law to report apparent child pornography to law enforcement via the CyberTipline (18 U.S.C. § 2258A). U.S. based companies are not required to proactively search for child sexual abuse material, although many do on a voluntary basis. Reports are also voluntarily submitted by international ESPs to NCMEC, but they are not required to report to the CyberTipline.

ESPs are provided with a link to our secure reporting form, and a username and password upon registration with the CyberTipline.  Many of the larger ESPs build an automated reporting tool to submit reports to the CyberTipline.  Some of the smaller companies report manually. Each company can provide any information they wish regarding the incident and reported user, including uploading the child sexual abuse content. However, the only information they are required to report is the incident reported and the date/time the incident occurred.  NCMEC does not have the authority to direct industry as to what to provide in their submitted CyberTipline reports.  Many companies voluntarily choose to provide reported user information (such as an email address, screen name, IP address, and the child sexual abuse images/videos in question) at the time they submit a report to the CyberTipline.  Some companies also report other types of child sexual exploitation incidents. For example, the online enticement of a child for sexual acts, sextortion, and child sex trafficking, even though they are not required by law to report these.  Additionally, when an ESP encounters a situation where a child appears to be in imminent danger, they may choose to escalate the CyberTipline report which quickly notifies NCMEC of the urgency of the report. These high priority reports are addressed within minutes by NCMEC staff.

In 2015, NCMEC received 4.4 million reports to the CyberTipline. Of which, 93% resolved to international locations.  All CyberTipline reports are made available to law enforcement; including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Military, and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section of the Department of Justice.  NCMEC has established a direct link to disseminate CyberTipline reports to more than 100 national police forces around the world and Interpol receives CyberTipline reports for the additional international countries not covered via the direct link. In the United States, the Internet Crimes against Children Task Forces (ICACs) are the primary recipients of CyberTipline reports.

For more information, please visit the website

Key Partners in Hotline Development – The International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children

The International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC) advocates, trains and collaborates to eradicate child abduction, sexual abuse and exploitation. For more than 15 years, ICMEC has been a leader in identifying gaps in the global community’s ability to protect children, and expertly assembling the people, resources and tools needed to fill those gaps. Through research-based advocacy, training, technical assistance, capacity building, and a collaborative approach to addressing critical child protection issues, ICMEC works with global partners – in government, academia, law enforcement, private industry, and the NGO community – to make the world a safer place for all children.

While ICMEC is based in Alexandria, Virginia, USA, through its regional representation in Brazil (for Latin America & Caribbean) and Singapore (for Asia-Pacific), ICMEC delivers tailored, local solutions for global problems. ICMEC’s regional representatives help respond to local and regional needs, develop customized programs and raise awareness of mission areas.


To combat child abduction, sexual abuse and exploitation on multiple fronts, ICMEC conducts extensive research into laws that exist around the world to better understand how countries handle a variety of child protection issues, promotes best practices, and creates replicable legal tools. For example, ICMEC’s seminal report, Child Pornography: Model Legislation & Global Review, now in its 8th Edition, looks at whether national legislation:

  1. Exists with specific regard to CSAM;
  2. Provides a definition of CSAM;
  3. Criminalizes computer-facilitated offenses;
  4. Criminalizes the knowing possession of CSAM, regardless of the intent to distribute;
  5. Obliges ISPs to report suspected CSAM to law enforcement or to some other mandated agency; and
  6. Requires ISPs to develop and implement data retention and preservation provisions.

The accompanying model legislation provides a menu of concepts for countries to consider when drafting anti-CSAM legislation, and addresses topics such as definitions, sentences, mandatory reporting, data retention and preservation, and sanctions and sentencing. Since the report was first released in 2006, 127 countries have refined or implemented new anti-CSAM laws.


Through its Global Training Academy, ICMEC provides resources to those on the frontlines of child protection, including law enforcement, educators, medical professional, and other child-serving specialists. Global Training Academy resources include:

  • International Law Enforcement Training: Since 2003, ICMEC has trained more than 8,000 individuals officers on essentials of technology-facilitated crimes against children (for law enforcement and for prosecutors); advanced online exploitation investigations; and advanced technologies.
  • Technology Tools: ICMEC deploys tools such as PhotoDNA, F1 video technology and Griffeye Analyze DI to increase law enforcement’s capacity to fight online child sexual abuse and exploitation. As Administrative and International Outreach Coordinator for Project VIC, ICMEC collaboratively works to improve law enforcement’s access – around the world – to technology resources that allow for increased information sharing, quicker victim identification and reduced officer burnout.
  • Education Portal: The online Education Portal hosts a wealth of information for adults working with children and youth, as well as for parents, teens and children. A joint project of ICMEC and the International Task Force on Child Protection, the Education Portal provides resources on how to prevent and respond to child abuse, neglect and sexual exploitation.


By bringing global partners together, ICMEC builds international networks of experts across disciplines to find solutions to better protect children. Case in point: the U.S. U.S. Financial Coalition Against Child Pornography (FCACP), which was established in 2006. Co-managed by ICMEC and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, the FCACP is a shining example of what a public-private partnership can accomplish. The FCACP has helped create a hostile environment on the Internet for those who seek to profit from child sexual abuse and exploitation; and, in conjunction with law enforcement, the FCACP has successfully disrupted the economics of the commercial CSAM business. Building off efforts in the United States, in 2009 ICMEC launched the Asia-Pacific FCACP to broaden the fight against the online sale and dissemination of CSAM. ICMEC also serves as a member of the Steering Group of the European Coalition Against Sexual Exploitation of Children Online.

Recognizing the crucial role hotlines play in the protection of children, ICMEC also is proud to enjoy a longstanding relationship with INHOPE (the Association and the Foundation), particularly in light of the extraordinarily important role Internet hotlines play in preventing, detecting, removing, and assisting with the investigation of online child sexual abuse materials (CSAM), and addressing the online sexual abuse and exploitation of children.

Key Partners in Hotline Development – The Internet Watch Foundation

The Internet Watch Foundation

The Internet Watch Foundation was established in 1996 by the internet industry to provide the UK internet Hotline for the public and IT professionals to report criminal online content in a secure and confidential way. The IWF is the UK Hotline for reporting criminal online content. For further information about the IWF and its work, visit

Among its activities, the IWF offers an international reporting solution for countries currently without a hotline.

International Reporting Solution

Many countries are experiencing rapid internet growth. The internet is a wonderful positive resource but a minority of people use the internet for illegal activities. One of the worst is distributing pictures and videos of children being raped and sexually tortured for an audience of paedophiles.

The IWF are working with governments and law enforcement worldwide to eliminate online child sexual abuse content.

How can IWF help?

The IWF Portal is an Online Child Sexual Abuse Reporting Portal.

It enables citizens living in your country to report online child sexual abuse content for assessment by IWF experts. It is a cost effective solution that is easy to implement with back up support from acknowledged world experts in the field.

  • Online: Your country will have its own locally branded reporting page;
  • Reporting Portal: Your citizens use this to report online child sexual abuse content;
  • Experts: Each report is automatically sent to IWF in the UK;
  • Assessment: It is assessed by IWF experts;
  • Content removal: IWF takes appropriate action, including tracing where the content is hosted, alerting the host country to the content, issuing notices to get it removed (Notice and Takedown) and informing police;
  • Results: You will receive a progress report;
  • Cost effective: Provide a full hotline service to your citizens at a fraction of the cost.
Why choose the IWF Portal?
  • Quick to set up by IWF experts;
  • Low cost centralised services;
  • Ability to grow at a speed to suit your country;
  • Back up support function from IWF team;
  • Access to IWF team and latest global thinking;
  • Access other international Hotlines through IWF;
  • Protection for your citizens and peace of mind;
  • Show your citizens that you are part of the global battle to eliminate online child sexual abuse content.

See also here.

Key Partners in Hotline Development – INTERPOL


INTERPOL is the world’s largest international police organization, with 190 member countries. Its role is to enable police around the world to work together to make the world a safer place. Its high-tech infrastructure of technical and operational support helps meet the growing challenges of fighting crime in the 21st century.

Crimes against children

International coordination

Crimes against children have increasingly taken on an international dimension. Images can be easily taken and uploaded in one country and made available to anyone in the world via the Internet. Child sex offenders can travel to developing countries to abuse children where the laws are less strict.

INTERPOL’s unique position in the international law enforcement community gives us the resources and networks to fight the global aspects of this crime more effectively. The organisation offers logistical support and provides coordination and assistance for international operations, including training sessions, intelligence, briefings, analysis and technical advice.

The key areas of work of INTERPOL in the areas of Crimes against Children include:

  • Victim identification
  • Access blocking
  • Specialist group crimes against children
  • Traveling sex offenders

This unique position makes INTERPOL an essential part of the international multi-stakeholder response to online child sexual exploitation and abuse. For INHOPE, INTERPOL is an important partner for both hotline cooperation and hotline development.

For more information about INTERPOL’s work to respond to crimes against children, visit their website.

Key Partners in Hotline Development – Virtual Global Taskforce

The Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT) seeks to build an effective, international partnership of law enforcement agencies, non government organisations and industry to help protect children from online child abuse and other forms of transnational child sexual exploitation.

The objectives of the VGT are:

  • to make the internet a safer place
  • to identify, locate and help children at risk
  • to hold perpetrators appropriately to account

INHOPE, representing the global network of Internet hotlines cooperating with law enforcement on a daily basis, is a private sector partner of the VGT. With internet hotlines being an effective first line of defence against illegal activity online, INHOPE’s work strongly aligns with the VGT’s aims of keeping children safe online.

The inspiration and significant elements of content that are available in this online guide are adapted from the existing GSMA-INHOPE ‘Guide to Establishing an Internet Hotline’.

Neither version of the guide would have been possible without the unending support, commitment and patience of Jenny Jones, Director of Public Policy at the GSMA.

In addition, the producers would like to acknowledge contributions to the original source guide:

  • Peter Robbins – INHOPE
  • Agnese Krike – INHOPE
  • Amy Crocker – INHOPE Foundation
  • Dieter Carstensen – Save the Children, Denmark
  • Anjan Bose – ECPAT International
  • Mick Moran – INTERPOL
  • Guillermo Galarza – International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children
  • Maaike Pekelharing – Meldpunt Kinderporno op internet
  • María José Cantarino de Frías – Telefónica
  • Emma Lowther – Internet Watch Foundation
  • Fred Langford – Internet Watch Foundation
  • Susie Hargreaves – Internet Watch Foundation
  • Kristof Claesen – Internet Watch Foundation


And additional contributors to this online version:

  • Johnny Gwynne, Director, CEOP Command, UK’s National Crime Agency
  • Thomas Andersson – ECPAT Sweden
  • Martyna Rozycka – – Poland
  • John Shehan – National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children
  • Magdalena Aguilar – Child Helpline International
  • Crimes against Children Team- INTERPOL
  • Veronica Donoso – INHOPE
  • Jessica Sarra – International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children
  • Andrei Marinescu – Save the Children Romania
  • Yvonne Nouwen – ECPAT International
  • Marie-Laure Lemineur – ECPAT International