Online child pornography

EU is working on new legislation fighting child sexual abuse material online

On September 10, 2020 the European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson presented to the Parliament the well-expected EU Strategy to fight sexual abuse material online together with a new proposal for an interim regulation on the processing of personal data for the purpose of combatting child sexual abuse. This proposal would allow online communication providers to fight sexual abuse under the e-Privacy directive, considering that the current revision tool, a new e-privacy regulation, is still pending with the Council.

Remarkably, the Commission intends, as part of the strategy, to put forward a legislation to make it mandatory for internet service providers to detect, remove and report child sexual abuse.

Main elements of the Strategy to fight child sexual abuse:

  1. Mandatory monitoring of Child Sexual Abuse Material (“CSAM”): the Commission intends to revise the current children protection framework and is planning to adopt mandatory monitoring obligations in a similar way to the well-know Copyright Directive. This means that, under the incoming new legislation, online service providers may be obliged to to detect, remove and report child sexual abuse material. This may imply the application of filtering technologies, a matter which has been already debated with the copyright reform because it may strongly impact on fundamental rights of users. 
  2. A new Centre to fight against child sexual abuse: Johansson explained that the Commission wants the new Centre to fight child sexual abuse to play a role similar to the NCMEC (as a hub for receiving reports from internet companies) and expressed her commitment for an stronger role of Europol. Concerning Hotlines, the Commissioner said she hoped they will play an important role in the centre but without giving details on the possible collaboration mechanisms.
  3. Protection of privacy and encryption: MEPs representing liberal and green criticised the missing reference to freedom and rights in the strategy and claimed that such omission may have negative effects over citizens’ rights of having all communications overseen. A fair solution to strike a balance between children protection and the protection of privacy and fundamental rights had been advocated. Also the matter of encryption has been touched, as Johansson (while recognising that the matter is delicate) said that such issue cannot be an escamotage for paedophiles and that solutions need to be found to move forward in a balanced way. 
  4. Interim Regulation on the processing of personal data to fight child sexual abuse: The initiative proposed by the Commission would introduce a temporary derogation from certain provisions of the ePrivacy Directive.

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