Internet has a powerful influence in the public education and private economies. In the recent years, its importance in the education of children all over the world has grown enormously. But as every other phenomenon, the easy access to the Internet creates a great number of concerns that should not be neglected. Technology is being used not only as a means of committing old forms of sexual abuse and exploitation, but also for creating new ones. As statistics from EUROPOL’s European Cybercrime Center (EC3) reveal, live-streaming of child abuse is no longer an emerging trend but an established reality.

Ensuring online child protection from sexual abuse and exploitation from child predators has become a major topic of concern on many societies. The global characteristics of the Internet has influenced in the globalization of potential risks of online sexual abuse and exploitation of children as well. Internet allows abusers to operate globally without regard of borders. Furthermore, online sexual abuse and exploitation of children involves a variety of crime types, ranging from child pornography, sexting and sextortion to online grooming, and live-web streaming of child abuse.

At the University of Luxembourg, research is done to investigate live web-streaming of child abuse as the newest form of child sexual exploitation and the least studied phenomenon created from the wide opportunities that Internet offers to malicious users. We conduct both vertical and horizontal analyses of how is online child sexual abuse and exploitation criminalized by supranational laws and by laws of various European countries and to what extend can existing legal frameworks be applied to the crime of life-streaming of child abuse. On the basis of this observation, the main aim is to critically analyze the current international legislation and policy applicable in the EU in the area of online sexual abuse and exploitation of children in order to find out how flexible they are to be applied to this specific crime, if they can be applied, and how can they be improved in order to better respond to this new global reality. The main research question is: to what extent is regulation in place addressing the problem of live-streaming of child sexual abuse? Is the current legal system sufficient for criminalizing this phenomenon?

Main contributor(s): Desara Dushi, Andra Giurgiu, Mark Cole