Information sharing and collaborative targeting

What is it?

  • Shared access to international databases, particularly those regarding child sexual abuse material and offender targeting methodologies; formal data sharing frameworks; high value collective targeting; and criminal records databases and other relevant criminal databases, e.g. ECRIS.

Why is it important?

  • Efficient and effective online child protection and safeguarding strategies that respond to the needs of individuals and groups of children requires coordinated action across different actors, industries and countries.
  • Due to the interrelated and international nature of CSEA online, programmes or strategies based on unaligned terminology, inaccurate data or mismatching definitions of risks are likely to be less efficient and effective, and create unnecessary obstacles in reaching a shared goal. Open collaboration from the outset will avoid unnecessary inefficiencies.
  • Information sharing and collaborative targeting enables better decisions and facilitates more efficient prevention, early intervention and effective response.

How can it be implemented?

  • Develop consensus amongst actors on the categories of children, offenders, technology gaps and other factors that will be used for data collection, technology design and reporting and response procedures. Include technical advice from child protection experts and other interested actors for aligned terminology.
  • Develop information sharing and data protection protocols and referral pathways (signposting) for the immediate referral of children identified as victims, or potential victims, of online exploitation and abuse.
  • Information sharing protocols should adhere to industry-wide ethics or principles and respect confidentiality. Key points include: (i) only collect personally identifiable data when the intended use is clearly defined, and (ii) only share information on a need-to-know basis and where there is consent (from the child as well as parent / caregiver where appropriate), or in cases where there is concern of potential harm for an individual or group of individuals. Capacity to consent should be considered as part of this process. 
  • Develop a set of shared indicators to outline progress towards effective collaboration and information sharing between all relevant actors.
  • Establish baselines to understand trends over several months or years and only gather data that you will use.
  • Identify potential risks (or unintended harm) that may be caused by data collection processes and mitigate against the risks. Before sharing information, consider the risks for children of sharing data that is unreliable, inaccurate, out of context or can be traced back to individuals.
  • Ensure that all staff collecting, analysing and encrypting data have participated in training on data protection and understand the principle of confidentiality as well as the sensitive nature of the information that they are working with.[1] An additional standard should be that all staff should have training on impact of abuse on children and on child safeguarding in general.

Further resources:

DLA Piper, Database of data protection laws

[1] Informed by / adapted from Sphere (2019),The 2019 Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action, Pillar 1.