May 2024 - Self-regulation | Notice & Takedown

eco Complaints Office 2023: Success in the Fight against Illegal Online Content

Alexandra Koch-Skiba, Head of the eco Complaints Office, champions the battle against online exploitation, highlighting a record year in vigilant reporting and successful international interventions.

eco Complaints Office 2023: Success in the Fight against Illegal Online Content-web

©Thapana Onphalai |

The Complaints Office of the eco - Association of the Internet Industry presented its report for the year 2023 in April 2024. With 17,493 actionable cases, the eco Complaints Office once again recorded a new peak of notified legal violations on the Internet last year.

Sexual violence and boundary violations against children and young people continued to account for the majority (91 percent) of complaints received

Depictions of sexual violence and sexual boundary violations against children and young people – especially content that qualifies as Child Pornography as defined in Section 184b of the German Criminal Code (StGB) – continued to account for the majority of complaints received in 2023. A total of 60,151 reports related to this topic.

With 16,573 cases, depictions of the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children that qualify as Child Pornography within the meaning of Section 184b StGB also accounted for the majority of actionable complaints in 2023.

The increase in complaints, especially in the area of sexual violence and border violations against minors, is shocking, but it also shows that our society is vigilant and takes a clear stance against illegal content.

Overall, a core message of the eco Complaints Office has resonated with people: Anyone and everyone can report illegal Internet content and thus actively contribute to its take-down as well as its prosecution. Our strong success rate of 98.35 percent for web-based content worldwide through content removal or legalization (e.g., through age verification) also proves that it is possible to effectively combat illegal content, despite obstacles such as obfuscation techniques or IP blocking. For over 25 years, eco has therefore been intrinsically motivated to take down illegal content and report criminal offenses. While not every tasteless content is automatically prohibited, a neutral and thorough legal assessment by experts remains essential.

Depictions of abuse were able to be taken down in over 98 percent of cases worldwide

In 2023, the eco Complaints Office was able to achieve important successes in close cooperation with its network partners: Within Germany, 100 percent of hosted websites with content still referred to in German legal terminology as Child Pornography – i.e., depictions of the sexual abuse of children – were taken down within an average of around 1.86 days. Worldwide, such content was removed in around six days and with an overall success rate of 98.5 percent. Take-down times thus occurred more quickly in 2023 compared to the previous year. This underlines just how important the work of the hotlines is and that the principle of take-down instead of blocking continues to function extremely well.

This once again underlines the relevance of the work of the complaints offices (on an international level also known as hotlines) and the effectiveness of the principle of “take-down instead of blocking.” We are very grateful to all complainants, whose reports actively contribute to take-down and criminal proceedings and help us all to build trust.

Good collaboration with network partners is also essential for our trustworthy work. For this reason, in 2023 we intensified the exchange and collaboration with our network partners, particularly the partner hotlines from the INHOPE network. Especially noteworthy were the bursary visits supported by INHOPE as part of the peer-to-peer exchange program, which allowed for several days of exchange with colleagues from France, Ireland, Hungary, Poland, Finland, and Portugal. We also laid the groundwork for future technological collaboration with FSM and

With regard to the European Commission’s current draft “Regulation on laying down rules to prevent and combat child sexual abuse,” we are deeply convinced that the principle of take-down instead of blocking is the most effective way to combat illegal Internet content. As such, current regulatory projects at the European level must more effectively promote this approach; the aims should be to incorporate established functioning structures and existing cooperations and synergies.

Important bridging function of hotlines through anonymous reporting options for citizens

In 2023, it was once again proven that it is important for illegal content to be reported anonymously to the eco Complaints Office: Last year, the eco Complaints Office received a total of 65,998 complaints based on potentially criminal content or content relevant to youth media protection. Almost two thirds (63.26%) of complainants reported these cases anonymously.

Overall, as a society, we must collectively strive to ensure that there is no room for hatred and distrust on the Internet and campaign for modern youth media protection at all levels. Raising society’s awareness of the inadmissibility of content harmful to children and adolescents and other illegal content is of paramount importance. Our dedication will therefore continue to extend over and above complaints processing.

Illegal Internet content can be reported to the eco Complaints Office here.

*This “terminus technicus” of the legal text serves exclusively to differentiate between the individual offenses in the area of sexual violence and border violations against minors and is used when referring to depictions of abuse of children as defined in Section 184b of the German Criminal Code (StGB). This is not intended as an explicit endorsement of the terminology still enshrined in criminal law.


Alexandra Koch-Skiba has been registered as an attorney since 2005. During her legal education she specialized in criminal law and the law of the protection of minors. As the Head of eco’s Complaints Office, she is in charge of the hotline’s management and of supporting the report handling, in particular in regard to legal issues. She represents the hotline at the European and national level, e.g. at European Networks, in liaising with law enforcement and other relevant stakeholders, and at events. Moreover, she represents eco on topics related to youth protection on the Internet.