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CyberTipline 2021 Report

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s CyberTipline offers the public and online electronic service providers an easy way to quickly report suspected incidents of sexual exploitation of children online.

Since the CyberTipline’s inception in 1998, we have received millions of reports and reviewed hundreds of millions of images and videos of suspected child sexual abuse material (CSAM) in an effort to locate exploited children and help law enforcement rescue them from abusive situations. We work to disrupt the trading of child sexual abuse images and videos online and help survivors begin to rebuild their lives.

In 2021, NCMEC’s CyberTipline received 29.3 million reports of suspected child sexual exploitation, an increase of 35% from 2020.

CyberTipline Reports

The CyberTipline receives reports about multiple forms of online child sexual exploitation.  Reports regarding CSAM, legally referred to as child pornography, make up the largest reporting category. Over 99% of the reports received by the CyberTipline in 2021 regarded incidents of suspected CSAM. The number of reports for nearly every category increased in 2021.

Number of reports by reporter incident type
Reporting Category 2019 Reports 2020 Reports 2021 Reports
CSAM (possession, manufacture, and distribution) 16,939,877 21,669,264 29,309,106
Child Sex Tourism 683 955 1,624
Child Sex Trafficking 11,798 15,879 16,032
Child Sexual Molestation 4,747 11,770 12,458
Misleading Domain Name 838 3,109 3,304
Misleading Words or Digital Images on the Internet 8,631 8,689 5,825
Online Enticement of Children for Sexual Acts 19,174 37,872 44,155
Unsolicited Obscene Material Sent to a Child 1,613 3,547 5,177
Grand Total 16,987,361 21,751,085 29,397,681

Electronic Service Provider Reports 

The CyberTipline receives reports from the public and online electronic service providers (ESPs). To date over 1,800 companies have access to make reports.

 

In 2021, over 29.1 million of the 29.3 million total reports were from ESPs.

2021 Reports by Electronic Service Providers (ESPs)
Number of reports by source
PUBLIC
240,598
ESP
29,157,083
TOTAL
29,397,681

Higher numbers of reports can be indicative of a variety of things, including larger numbers of users on a platform or how robust an ESP's efforts are to identify and remove abusive content from their platforms. 

In 2021, CyberTipline reports provided by ESPs included 39.9 million images, of which 16.9 million were unique, and 44.8 million videos, of which 5.1 million were unique. 

CyberTipline Files

Reports made to the CyberTipline by ESPs can include images, videos and other files related to what’s being reported like suspected child sexual abuse material. This content must be analyzed along with the report. 

Unfortunately, child sexual abuse images and videos are often circulated and shared online repeatedly. CSAM of a single child victim can be circulated for years after the initial abuse occurred. One of the CyberTipline’s critical functions is to identify unique images through the work of analysts and the use of technology.

These reports to the CyberTipline included 65.4 million files with 33,690,561 images, 31,654,163 videos, and 120,590 other files.

File Review, Triage and Technology Enhancements

NCMEC makes CyberTipline reports, including NCMEC’s additional analysis, available to law enforcement around the world. The goal is to help law enforcement prioritize the most urgent cases within the incredible volume of reports.

In 2021, NCMEC reimagined our response to suspected CSAM submitted to the CyberTipline by companies. Through a process involving multiple verifications, analysts review content and tag each file with information about the type of content, the estimated age of the people seen in the videos or images, and other details. NCMEC then leverages the technology in a variety of tools to automatically recognize and tag those same images and videos when they are submitted in future reports.

Through this process, NCMEC successfully tagged over 22 million files in 2021 alone and has tagged over 30 million files to date.

NCMEC uses this information to triage reports to ensure that the most urgent cases, those where a child may be suffering ongoing abuse, get immediate attention. We also protect our analysts from repeated viewing of the same abusive imagery.

By implementing these technology tools, we can focus our efforts on newly produced CSAM. When new images and videos are identified among the millions we receive each week, our analysts look for clues to uncover the identity or location of the child or suspect and make that information available to law enforcement.

Last year, because of our detailed analysis of newly created CSAM, NCMEC alerted law enforcement to over 4,260 potential new child victims.

Last year, because of our detailed analysis of newly created CSAM, NCMEC alerted law enforcement to over 4,260 potential new child victims.


Hash Sharing

Another benefit of the recent enhancements to the CyberTipline process is the ability to grow our list of hash values which is part of an important initiative to stop the spread of CSAM. Hash values are unique digital fingerprints assigned to pieces of data like images and videos. When an image or video is identified as containing known CSAM, NCMEC adds the hash value to a list that is shared with technology companies.

The companies can then use these hash values to voluntarily scan their systems so the abusive content can be identified, reported and removed. Likewise, when NCMEC receives a report about a child sexual abuse image with a known hash value, it can quickly determine if the image has already been reported, and if the child in the image has been identified.

In 2021, NCMEC added 1.4 million hash values to our growing list of over 5 million hash values of known child sexual abuse material.

In 2021, the average time for images or videos to be taken down following a NCMEC notification was less than 2 days.

Removal Notices & Tracking

We often receive CyberTipline reports about imagery of child sexual exploitation that is publicly available online. In some cases, the reports are made by the child victims themselves or their guardians/caregivers. The CyberTipline is a lifeline for families who are struggling to have explicit images of their child taken down.

After visually reviewing the reported imagery, NCMEC staff members notify the electronic service provider where the image or video has been shared. Based on a company's service, content may be removed or users blocked or banned. Once a notice has been sent to the company, NCMEC staff manually track the response and will generate additional notices until the content is addressed.

2021 Reports by ESP breakdown by notifications 

NCMEC generates several types of notices to companies depending on the circumstances.

NCMEC may notify a company based on:

CSAM
Child sexual abuse material which may violate federal and/or state law or a company’s Terms of Service, or Member Services Agreement or Community Guidelines or Standards.
Exploitative
Exploitative content which depicts identified child victims, but the images themselves may not reach the legal threshold of child sexual abuse material. Examples of this are images or videos that may contain nudity, non-pornographic content originating from child sexual abuse material or otherwise sexually suggestive content of identified child victims.
Predatory Text
These notices may contain text that is related to sexually predatory comments or personal information about an identified child victim or CSAM survivor. Personal information identifying the child in the image/video may pose safety concerns for the child or survivor.

Of the 29.3 million reports that the CyberTipline received in 2021, 93% resolved to locations outside the U.S. 

Global Response

Most CyberTipline reports involve the upload of child sexual abuse material by users outside of the U.S. This is largely due to the fact that ESPs must comply with 18 USC 2258A which requires U.S. companies to report to the CyberTipline if they become aware of suspected CSAM on their platforms and servers. Because these companies have users worldwide and those incidents are reported to NCMEC, by extension the CyberTipline serves as a global clearinghouse.

Most CyberTipline reports of CSAM include indicators of where the files were uploaded. It is important to note that country-specific numbers may be impacted by the use of proxies and anonymizers. In addition, each country applies its own national laws when assessing the reported content. These numbers are not indicative of the level of child sexual abuse in a particular country.

2021 Reports by Country

Case Management Tool

With 93% of CyberTipline reports resolving internationally, it’s imperative that there is a referral system in place enabling a global response to CyberTipline reports. The Case Management Tool enables NCMEC to securely and quickly share reports with law enforcement around the world.

The system allows law enforcement in the U.S. and abroad to receive, triage, prioritize, organize and manage CyberTipline reports. It also helps police agencies refer reports to other law enforcement agencies for a more targeted response. The system helps NCMEC notify law enforcement of high priority reports.

As of 2021, 84 law enforcement agencies in 143 countries around the world have direct access to CyberTipline reports.

There are 71 international police forces who are able to receive CyberTipline reports directly, and 61 additional countries who are able to receive reports through a U.S. federal law enforcement attaché. Interpol also assists in the dissemination of CyberTipline report information to certain countries where we don’t have a direct connection to law enforcement. In support of easier adoption and use by international users, the Case Management Tool fields and interface are available in 8 languages with 10 additional translations planned. Domestically all Internet Crimes Against Children task forces also have access.

Archives

2019 Reports by ESP
2019 CyberTipline Reports by Country
2020 Reports by ESP

NCMEC will #NeverStop working on behalf of children to give them the safe childhoods they deserve.

If you’re a victim of child sexual exploitation on the internet or are aware of CSAM, sex trafficking or other crimes against children online, please make a report at CyberTipline.org or call NCMEC at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).

This map depicts the number of reports per country from the 21.7 million reports of suspected child sexual exploitation received by the CyberTipline in 2020. The chart includes the reports from 2020 and 2019. 

U.S. based electronic service providers, in accordance with 18 U.S.C 2258A, are required to report incidents of “apparent child pornography” (also known as “child sexual abuse material”) which they believe violate section 22512251A22522252A2252B, or 2260.

Most CyberTipline reports include geographic indicators related to the upload location of the child sexual abuse material. It is important to note that country-specific numbers may be impacted by the use of proxies and anonymizers. In addition, due to variance of law, each country must apply its own national laws when assessing the illegality of the reported content.

These numbers are generated for informational purposes only. These numbers are not indicative of the level of child sexual abuse in a particular country. 

Country 2019 Reports 2020 Reports
Afghanistan 163,120 115,259
Aland Islands 15 20
Albania 17,545 23,426
Algeria 700,535 1,102,939
American Samoa 33 67
Andorra 92 126
Angola 10,163 14,622
Anguilla 40 80
Antarctica 1 1
Antigua and Barbuda 196 124
Argentina 57,372 76,857
Armenia 4,793 4,594
Aruba 359 640
Australia 33,645 36,193
Austria 10,217 10,363
Azerbaijan 11,445 10,462
Bahamas 421 670
Bahrain/Bahrein 26,093 22,960
Bangladesh 556,642 817,687
Barbados 755 633
Belarus 1,828 2,603
Belgium 21,448 22,154
Belize 1,907 2,780
Benin 3,480 3,977
Bermuda 67 55
Bhutan 4,597 15,379
Bolivia 22,597 120,161
Bosnia and Herzegovina 15,675 21,263
Botswana 1,582 9,195
Brazil 398,069 432,196
British Indian Ocean Territory 7 2
British Virgin Islands 60 63
Brunei 2,070 2,119
Bulgaria 16,892 16,962
Burkina Faso 3,266 3,250
Burma/Myanmar 233,681 319,617
Burundi 582 1,117
Cambodia 91,458 188,328
Cameroon 5,906 7,108
Canada 36,908 43,350
Cape Verde Islands 2,481 3,006
Caribbean Netherlands 42 123
Cayman Islands 117 152
Central African Republic 221 321
Chad 340 624
Chile 28,641 42,619
Christmas Island 1 1
Cocos (Keeling) Islands - 62
Colombia 264,582 763,997
Comoros 585 1,029
Congo 859 1,165
Congo, The Democratic Republic of the 3,856 6,461
Cook Islands 9 17
Costa Rica 12,764 36,562
Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) 18,916 20,274
Croatia 13,068 12,582
Cuba 4,412 12,122
Curacao 388 1,335
Cyprus 2,502 3,302
Czech Republic 14,448 11,044
Denmark 6,148 6,504
Djibouti 4,045 6,120
Dominica 108 115
Dominican Republic 32,325 104,747
Ecuador 98,669 242,631
Egypt 276,596 449,940
El Salvador 25,015 73,197
Equatorial Guinea 157 198
Eretria 62 615
Estonia 1,951 4,695
Ethiopia 15,054 17,451
Falkland Islands 1 5
Faroe Islands 58 56
Federated States of Micronesia 68 60
Fiji 3,560 1,806
Finland 4,850 4,419
France 71,422 89,871
French Guiana 555 593
French Polynesia 320 249
Gabon 1,201 1,511
Gambia, The 276 377
Country 2019 Reports  2020 Reports
Georgia 6,157 6,913
Germany 87,895 92,768
Ghana 12,707 13,178
Gibraltar 49 114
Greece 18,911 28,722
Greenland 84 152
Grenada 347 266
Guadeloupe 1,556 705
Guam 250 313
Guatemala 72,598 121,725
Guernsey 29 39
Guiana, French - 1
Guinea 3,438 6,277
Guinea-Bissau 236 319
Guyana 2,063 2,496
Haiti 3,437 4,541
Honduras 31,996 84,527
Hong Kong 7,114 8,180
Hungary 57,500 66,123
Iceland 550 632
India 1,987,430 2,725,518
Indonesia 840,221 986,648
Iran 60,580 145,800
Iraq 1,026,809 919,966
Ireland 6,653 6,959
Isle of Man 56 57
Israel 28,691 23,597
Italy 57,113 62,399
Jamaica 2,567 2,253
Japan 26,333 33,886
Jersey 388 94
Jordan 123,537 115,267
Kazakhstan 10,680 9,238
Kenya 12,788 14,434
Kiribati 136 82
Kosovo 694 1,229
Kuwait 63,492 68,582
Kyrgyzstan 6,280 4,612
Lao People's Democratic Republic 23,599 24,402
Latvia 1,347 1,418
Lebanon 28,136 37,892
Lesotho 878 1,030
Liberia 880 1,926
Libya 150,848 189,955
Liechtenstein 16 26
Lithuania 11,857 7,624
Luxembourg 1,506 1,488
Macao/Macao 959 937
Macedonia/North Macedonia 8,092 8,939
Madagascar 5,642 49,461
Malawi 448 819
Malaysia 183,407 204,506
Maldives 4,865 6,627
Mali 2,258 2,942
Malta 1,978 1,649
Marshall Islands 34 37
Martinique 611 474
Mauritania 7,739 25,236
Mauritius 4,153 4,292
Mayotte 460 657
Mexico 827,988 793,721
Moldova 10,516 5,993
Monaco 340 886
Mongolia 4,636 10,757
Montenegro 3,720 6,784
Montserrat 8 1
Morocco 322,889 705,863
Mozambique 4,688 6,824
Namibia 897 789
Nauru 31 33
Nepal 63,366 178,371
Netherlands 25,753 25,704
Netherlands Antilles 1 10
New Caledonia 362 665
New Zealand 4,973 6,511
Nicaragua 19,065 45,487
Niger 666 700
Nigeria 39,052 46,610
North Korea 1 9
Norfolk Island 2 -
Northern Mariana Islands 101 77
Norway 8,031 6,979
Country 2019 Reports 2020 Reports
Oman 41,494 41,533
Pakistan 1,158,390 1,288,513
Palau 81 91
Palestinian Territory 37,008 38,033
Panama 7,132 8,928
Papua New Guinea 1,353 3,140
Paraguay 6,157 9,035
People's Republic of China 3,441 4,627
Peru 160,839 490,878
Philippines 801,272 1,339,597
Poland 77,741 381,254
Portugal 30,369 26,982
Puerto Rico 7,849 11,859
Qatar 53,467 56,683
Reunion 1,242 2,101
Romania/Rumania 106,764 59,324
Russian Federation 72,037 64,580
Rwanda 873 1,456
Saint Barthélemy 7 12
Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha 2 -
Saint Kitts and Nevis 93 59
Saint Lucia 429 359
Saint Martin 53 56
Saint Pierre and Miquelon 5 15
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 253 303
Samoa 122 162
San Marino 7 12
Sao Tome and Principe 692 576
Saudi Arabia 514,832 510,240
Senegal 3,590 4,223
Serbia 32,473 45,737
Seychelles 1,501 511
Sierra Leone 728 958
Singapore 18,426 22,769
Sint Maarten 107 153
Slovakia 6,769 6,554
Slovenia 6,890 5,242
Solomon Islands 462 467
Somalia 17,245 21,745
South Africa 38,031 105,925
South Korea 83,322 100,709
South Sudan 633 1,751
Spain 46,836 70,544
Sri Lanka 73,202 130,267
Sudan 15,884 103,515
Surinam 3,366 2,666
Svalbard 1 -
Swaziland 259 317
Sweden 16,404 19,699
Switzerland 8,567 7,959
Syria 31,698 97,973
Taiwan 33,621 29,468
Tajikistan 5,065 3,510
Tanzania 6,785 5,752
Thailand 355,396 397,743
Timor-Leste 1,309 1,758
Togo 803 1,097
Tonga 37 68
Trinidad and Tobago 3,537 3,411
Tunisia 65,917 112,952
Turkey 222,881 225,126
Turkmenistan 106 187
Turks and Caicos Islands 115 113
Tuvalu 4 10
Uganda 4,976 6,575
Ukraine 24,460 41,904
United Arab Emirates 330,268 216,874
United Kingdom 74,330 75,578
United States 521,658 494,388
Uruguay 5,187 5,894
US Virgin Islands 131 216
Uzbekistan 4,760 4,849
Vanuatu 478 462
Vatican City - 1
Venezuela 37,802 127,975
Vietnam 379,554 843,963
Wallis and Futuna 4 5
Western Sahara 7 4
Yemen Arab Republic 41,984 69,709
Zambia 2,841 3,726
Zimbabwe 391 718
No Country Listed* 1,668,157 641,874
Country Total Reports
2019 TOTAL 16,987,361
2020 TOTAL 21,751,085

*Reasons include no IP address included in the report, proxy IPs, etc. When the country is unknown, reports are referred to US federal law enforcement.