Increasing distribution of prohibited content is observed: in three months RRT received 2205 reports about prohibited or harmful content for minors

2021 April 30 d.

In Quarter I of 2021, the Communications Regulatory Authority of the Republic of Lithuania (RRT) received 2205 reports of illegal or harmful internet content via the internet hotline ”Clean Internet”. This indicator already significantly exceeds the total number of reports received in 2020 – 1373. The reports about prohibited information found on the Internet, i.e. information that contains pornographic content, promotes sexual abuse, exploitation of children, presents self-injury, promotes cyberbullying children or adults on the grounds of nationality, race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, beliefs, etc., as well as unauthorized publication of personal information were sent not only by Lithuanian Internet users but an unusually large number of reportsabout images of child sexual abuse on Lithuanian servers were also received from Internet hotlines in other countries, INHOPE members, etc.    

Compared to Quarter I of 2020 (383 reports were received), the number of reports increased more than 5 times. 1,045 reports of prohibited or harmful content affecting minors on the Internet were confirmed, and action was taken on 102 websites where this content was disseminated:

  • 4 reports about websites disseminating child sexual abuse images were forwarded to Internet hotlines in other countries, members of the international association of Internet hotlines INHOPE.
  • 41 reports were sent to ISPs, website owners and social networks in various countries with a Notice and Take Down (NTD) flag about dissemination of prohibited Internet content on their websites or networks, indicating that it must be removed as soon as possible. One Lithuanian hosting service provider, which failed to respond to RRT Internet hotline messages, was given a mandatory instruction to remove prohibited content or restrict access to two websites that had more than 500  child sexual abuse images.
  • 46 reports on websites operating in Lithuania disseminating child sexual abuse images were forwarded to the Police Department for further investigation.
  • 11 reports were forwarded to the Office of the Inspector of Journalistic Ethics for further investigation regarding information suspected of having negative effects on minors.

The fact that both adults and children spend a great deal of time in the digital space during pandemic quarantine has led to an increase in child sexual abuse material on the Internet noticeable all over the world. This is shown by statistics from hotlines and reports from other institutions, such as Interpol[1].

Bullying in cyberspace is another sensitive and relevant issue in the digital environment, and during the first quarter RRT received 43 reports regarding cyberbullying. In 12 cases, the information was confirmed and appropriate action was taken. RRT reminds that according to the Law on Education of the Republic of Lithuania, upon learning of a case of public bullying in cyberspace, the parents (guardians, caregivers) of the violator and the victim must, and other persons have the right to report it to RRT.

RRT specialists also provided 124 consultations to social network users on the removal of illegally posted personal or harmful information, recovery of hacked accounts, setting appropriate security and privacy options on social networks. Information on how to stay safe on social networks, choose the right antivirus programs, use public wireless internet safely, or protect your online privacy can be found on the updated website www.esaugumas.lt.  

RRT would like to remind that all internet users are called on to report content that is illegal (posting of which is prohibited) or harmful (having negative effects on minors) using the internet hotline “Clean Internet”, at the address https://svarusinternetas.lt/. Reports may also be anonymous. Please see this video to see how to report illegal or harmful content online, and how the received reports are followed up: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXRBMU4sfOk. Please find more information on safe and responsible online behaviour at: www.draugiskasinternetas.lt and www.esaugumas.lt.

[1] Interpol. COVID19 – Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse threats and trends // https://www.interpol.int/content/download/15611/file/COVID19%20-%20Child%20Sexual%20Exploitation%20and%20Abuse%20threats%20and%20trends.pdf

Updated on 2021-05-03