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    13 august, 2020

    Why is the Child Abuse Code, supported by foreign Internet giants a good initiative only at first glance?

    Author: Alexander Malkevich, no comments

    Several IT giants such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, Snapchat and Microsoft have signed an agreement against online child abuse. The Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance has developed a set of 11 principles to combat child abuse online.

    IT companies that signed the agreement are committed to prohibiting child sexual abuse materials, reporting any such content to the authorities, fighting sexual exploitation of minors, and protecting children from content that is dangerous. In addition, they will monitor changes in the attackers' work patterns and regularly report on the results achieved.

    Of course, this is the right way forward and this initiative is necessary, but it raises a lot of questions in terms of implementation. This spring, the infodemic surrounding the novel coronavirus showed that all attempts of social media platforms to introduce new mechanisms of fact-checking were unsuccessful. This did not bring about fewer fake messages, in contrast, it raised more questions about the objectivity of moderation.

    In fact, social media platforms have become the main source of dissemination of inaccurate and destructive information which has led to the need to discuss measures on the world stage to ensure the protection of citizens from being bombarded with disinformation and create a safe online environment for all Internet users. Returning to the Child Abuse Code, it remains an open question on how IT giants will determine what content is dangerous or not.

    In the context of different approaches to sex education in different countries, information that will be objectively perceived on Western resources may be banned in Russia.

    For instance, Russia prohibits the description of different methods of suicide and the promotion of non-traditional sexual relations among children and adolescents. On the contrary, in Europe such propaganda is considered to be the norm.

    Thus, it remains a mystery what forms of sexual violence the agreement developed by the intelligence services will be deemed as unacceptable.

    The situation with the proliferation of content that is destructive and dangerous to children has shown that Russia needs to improve legislation in the field of regulating Internet companies and protecting children from sexual assault.

    Proposals for possible control measures over Internet platforms are being actively discussed, and the draft law on fines for disseminating "inaccurate, illegal and defamatory information on social media platforms" was adopted in its first reading by the State Duma.

    With regard to child protection, Russian legislation contains a gap in the dissemination of information aimed at child molestation and the propaganda of pedophilia. The Criminal Code of the Russian Federation spells out punishment for already committed crimes against children, but nothing is said about the incitement to such crimes or popularization (propaganda) of having sex with minors.

    We have already noticed this critical gap and asked the relevant departments to start the necessary work in this direction.

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