Detect child abusers without mass scanning

14.11.2023 8:44

Detect child abusers without mass scanning

Child abuse

An overwhelming majority of MEPs from all political groups today adopted the Parliament’s position on new rules to fight and prevent child sexual abuse online and to improve the protection of children online.

"It is an important achievement that we have found a legally sound compromise supported by all political groups. All internet providers will have to assess the risks of abuse in their services and mitigate those risks with tailored measures. As a last resort, detection orders can be used to take down abusive material still circulating on the internet. This agreement strikes a balance between the protection of children and respect for fundamental rights, in particular the privacy of internet users. Once in place, the new law will be a crucial tool in our common fight against child sexual abuse," explained Javier Zarzalejos MEP, who led the negotiations on the law, following today's vote in the Parliament's Home Affairs Committee.

"Every two minutes, a web page depicts a child being sexually abused. Almost three out of five reports of child sexual abuse lead to servers in EU countries. However, currently, only a few Internet service providers are voluntarily collaborating in the fight against online child sexual abuse. This new law, a pioneer in the world, represents a paradigm shift,” said Zarzalejos.

"Once it is approved and comes into force, all internet service providers offering their services in the EU will have to cooperate by assessing the risk of their services being misused for online child sexual abuse and by implementing mitigation measures to prevent sexual abuse of minors from occurring in the first place. In cases where, unfortunately, abuse has already taken place, providers will be obliged to report such material to the competent authorities so that crimes can be prosecuted and victims rescued. They must also remove such material as soon as possible so that the victims do not suffer constant re-victimisation,” Zarzalejos continued.

MEPs have strengthened safeguards to ensure that mass scanning and general monitoring do not occur, the protection of encrypted communications and compliance with EU law and case law. New obligations were introduced for platforms primarily used for the dissemination of pornographic content and online video game chats.

Furthermore, MEPs supported the establishment of an EU Centre for Child Protection to support the implementation of the new rules and help service providers in the detection of child sexual abuse material. MEPs also agreed to create a new Victims’ Rights and Survivors Consultative Forum, a permanent advisory body in the EU Centre to ensure that the views of victims and survivors are heard and taken into account.

The report still needs to be endorsed by the plenary in November. After that, the European Parliament stands ready to start negotiations with Member States on the final text of the law.

Note to editors

The EPP Group is the largest political group in the European Parliament with 178 Members from all EU Member States

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