“The grooming of children for sexual purposes is always about a child on the verge of or in the midst of abuse,” said John Shehan, a vice president at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the U.S. federal clearinghouse that works with technology companies and law enforcement agencies around the world.
As of September, according to the clearinghouse, 1,020 reports of grooming had come from the European Union. Cases of grooming were reported in all 27 E.U. countries and contained many examples of “sextortion” — when an adult poses as a minor to solicit photos or videos, then uses the imagery as blackmail to further exploit the child.
Diego Naranjo, head of policy at European Digital Rights in Brussels, an advocacy group, said the subject was fraught because anyone who questioned the tech companies’s practices was cast as “somebody who doesn’t care about the children.”
Even so, he