Our study is the first to look at mobile device use for child sexual exploitation material (CSEM) consumption, and at the global impact of deterrence efforts by search providers. We used data from Google, Bing, and Yandex to assess how web searches for CSEM are being conducted, both at present and historically. Our findings show that the blocking efforts by Google and Microsoft have resulted in a 67% drop in the past year in web-based searches for CSEM. Additionally, our findings show that mobile devices are a substantial platform for web-based consumption of CSEM, with tablets and smartphones representing 32% of all queries associated with CSEM conducted on Bing. Further, our findings show that a major search engine not located in the United States, Yandex, did not undertake blocking efforts similar to those implemented by Google and Microsoft and has seen no commensurate drop in CSEM searches and continues to profit from ad revenue on these queries. While the efforts by Google and Microsoft have had a deterrence effect in the United States, searchers from Russia and other locations where child pornography possession is not criminalized have continued to use these services. Additionally, the same lax enforcement environment has allowed searchers from the United States to utilize Yandex with little fear of detection or referral to United States law enforcement from the Russian authorities.
Keywords: Child pornography; Child sexual exploitation; Internet.
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