Onward and upward following our launch
Following the successful conclusion of our crowdfunding campaign, Prostasia Foundation was officially launched at the Center for Sex and Culture on August 15, 2018, with sexologist and author Dr Carol Queen as Master of Ceremonies. You can find highlight videos from the event along with the full panel recording on our YouTube channel, and some photos can be found on our Instagram account. We will also soon be releasing a promotional video for Prostasia that with some of the choicest sound bites from the event.

First on the panel to speak was Prostasia's Executive Director, Jeremy Malcolm, who set out five of our beliefs. The first was that child protection is important enough that it should never be used as a pretext to achieve other political objectives. Second, research can help us to better understand how to protect children from sexual abuse. Third, communities that are wrongly blamed for child sexual abuse can be vital allies in the fight towards its elimination. Fourth, protecting children from sexual harm must include protecting them from the harmful effects of laws meant to help them. And finally, preventing child sexual abuse before it happens is far preferable to dealing with its aftermath.

Second to speak was David Greene, Civil Liberties Director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), who provided an update on the status of the lawsuit to overturn FOSTA, the overbroad and (as the lawsuit's plaintiffs claim) unconstitutional anti-trafficking law. FOSTA has made it more difficult to investigate cases of child sex trafficking, while making the lives of adult sex workers that much more difficult and dangerous, and censoring much legitimate speech about sex.

Following David were two speakers from constituencies that aren't usually represented at events of child protection organizations, still less on their advisory boards: Ian O'Brien from the Free Speech Coalition which is the industry association for the adult entertainment and pleasure products industries, and Meagan Ingerman, a childcare worker and child development specialist who also represents the consensual kink community.

Both Ian and Meagan explained that far from being inappropriate, it is vital to engage these communities in the fight against child sexual abuse, and that they already observe many good practices from which the broader community could learn. For example, Ian quipped "I can't think of another industry that is more explicitly identified in its opposition to [involving] children," a sentiment that Meagan echoed by saying "my thing when I encounter minors in kink is, first of all, that's great that you're interested, please come back when you're 18, and here are some books to read."

Carol Queen closed the evening with a remarkable anecdote about her experience as a sex worker with a man who identified to her as having been a sex offender against teens. After learning about the harmful effects of this behavior the man realized that it was wrong, and instead took up consensual "ageplay" fantasies with sex workers as a way of acting out his sexual interest in a harmless way.

The controversial nature of interventions such as this, along with the sex dolls that the CREEPER Act would ban, was discussed during question time. As Meagan noted in her response to an audience member who voiced concerns about this approach, "the reality is that we don't have the research to know if that would keep somebody from offending, and personally… I'd rather have someone with a childlike robot than an actual child."

These are difficult issues to talk about or research, but it is vitally important that we begin to do so as a society, if we really wish to make progress in the battle to eliminate child sexual abuse. By itself, our society's existing reactive and carceral approach is barely scratching the surface of the problem. Prostasia Foundation believes we could do better with an evidence-based primary prevention approach, that could avoid children from being harmed to begin with.

This message is a surprisingly tough sell to the general public and to politicians, and that's why we depend on you for your support. If you are already a member of Prostasia Foundation, we thank you. If you aren't yet, you can become a member for as little as $5 per month. Please click on the button below and you could become our newest valued member in minutes.
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Today we participated in an interview with Dr Charles Kriel of the Corsham Institute as part of the September 7 edition of its Data, Ethics and Trust podcast. The interview was in response to U.K. Home Secretary Sajid Javid's demand to Internet companies this week that they "do more" to eliminate child sexual abuse online, meaning that they should be required to invent new technologies that could allow child sexual abuse images to be deleted before anybody sees them. 

Such demands for Internet platforms to deliver the apparently impossible are not new. We have heard them before, such as during the ongoing U.K. House of Lords Communications Committee Inquiry The Internet: to regulate or not?, to which the Internet Watch Foundation gave evidence saying, "We believe that the current legal framework for liability [that] already exists ... does not require any further changes [or] amendments for companies to cooperate with the removal of illegal content online."

But surprisingly, this time Google plans to have delivered the impossible on a plate with its announcement of a new tool that it claims can flag likely images of child sexual abuse that have never been seen before. If such a tool were somehow possible, it would be an incredible and welcome breakthrough.

However, we have questions. How effective is this tool? How will it be used, and by whom? What mechanisms of accountability and transparency do they have in place? Would the use of such a tool be mandated by law? Would this open the door to its use for other purposes, such as by police departments against adult sex workers? Prostasia has requested access to this new tool from Google so that we can evaluate it and help provide independent and scientific answers to these questions.

While we look forward to seeing this tool in action, we do wonder why other technologies that could prevent child sexual abuse—in the broadest sense of "technology," meaning "the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes"—are not also treated with such hopeful interest, nor lavished with such attention by politicians.

On the very same day as Sajid Javid's demand to big tech, Tom Squire of the Lucy Faithfull Foundation had a very different message: "We’ll only really start to address the issue by being more open about the need to balance law enforcement with work to help people stop looking at these images in the first place. And to do that we need to work with people who abuse children online and offline, and reduce the likelihood of such abuse in the future. That means helping people who abuse to understand their behaviour, what triggers it, and the great harm it causes to the children – so they are better able to address their behaviour and reduce their risk to children."

Or as our Executive Director Jeremy Malcolm said in his interview with Dr Kriel today, "Mental health professionals and people who are in danger of offending against children online need to be able to receive and share support, and this is something that Internet companies can assist with." You can listen to the entire podcast here, but forward to about 16:07 to hear the interview. Let us know what you thought about it on Twitter, Facebook, or just by dropping us an email.


We recently welcomed two other members of our Advisory Council, who have been working with us for a while, but have now announced their participation publicly. These are Dr James Cantor, and Guy Hamilton-Smith. Dr Cantor is a clinical psychologist and neuroscientist, internationally recognized for his research on the causes of pedophilia over the past 20 years. Dr. Cantor is the Director of the Toronto Sexuality Centre and has served as Editor-in-Chief of the research journal Sexual Abuse and as Senior Scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Canada.

Guy Hamilton-Smith is a graduate of the University of Kentucky College of Law and is the Sex Offense Litigation and Policy fellow at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law. He has written about these issues for Harvard Law’s Fair Punishment Project, the Texas Journal of Civil Liberties & Civil Rights, the American Bar Association, and other outlets. You can read Guy's first contribution to Prostasia's blog below, and find more of his writing at his website, guyhamiltonsmith.com.

Both James and Guy have been working with us behind the scenes for a while, but the right moment to announce their involvement arrived only following our successful launch last month. We thank them both very much for having the commitment and courage to support Prostasia Foundation in its important mission.
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Your Privacy
We have permanently disabled our members-only forums for now, due to a privacy vulnerability that a member alerted us to. We appreciate that it is important to maintain the ability for members to remain anonymous or pseudonymous, due to the potential for abuse and harrasment of those who support prevention-based child protection initiatives. We are therefore investigating options for reintroducing a more secure member-only forum with better support for anonymous or pseudonymous participation.

You can be assured that your member details are only accessible to Prostasia's Executive Director and Treasurer, and are only used for the purposes of processing donations and communicating with you directly. Under no circumstances will we allow our membership database to be accessed by third parties (even by other members) other than for payment processing in accordance with our strict Privacy Policy. For example, we do not rely on any third party services for mailing this newsletter.

At the request of another member, we have also recently begun to support the Monero cryptocurrency which allows you to make a donation that cannot be traced back to you. For technical reasons, this is currently only available for one-off donations, not for recurring membership payments. Although you are still asked to leave a name and address when donating, and these have to be real if you are using a credit card, they can be pseudonymous if you are donating with cryptocurrency.
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Prostasia Foundation
18 Bartol Street #995, San Francisco, CA 94133
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