Taking down the ‘chans: Online child sexual abuse material and pseudo-legality in the technology industry

A/Prof Michael Salter1

1University Of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

There is a global trend towards government regulation of the technology industries, in recognition that self- and co-regulation models have failed to prompt an adequate industry response to online harms. Online safety regimes and industry codes have focused on articulating the obligations of service providers to users and the management of online content. However the specific business models and structures of the technology industries have been largely excluded from debates on preventing and removing online child sexual abuse material (CSAM).

 

This paper describes the efforts of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection (C3P) to disrupt the ‘trichan’ imageboards (180chan, 155chan, 144chan), who were amongst the most prolific purveyors of CSAM on the clear web. The author was located at C3P in May 2019 while this effort was underway. This case study reveals the spectrum of legality within the technology industries in which criminal technology enterprises maintain commercial relations with pseudo-legal service providers, who in turn contract internet services from large telecommunications providers. The paper argues that the persistence of clear web CSAM providers such as ‘trichan’ is made possible by a pervasive techno-libertarianism within the technology industries, and highlights the need for inter-industry regulation in the removal of CSAM and the protection of CSAM victims.


Biography:

Dr Salter is a Scientia Fellow and Associate Professor of Criminology at the University of New South Wales. He specialises in the study of complex trauma, including organised sexual abuse and technologically-facilitated abuse. He sits on the Board of Directors of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation.

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