EU Parliament deal is an unacceptable compromise on children’s safety online, warns child rights coalition

Published:  Mon 30 Oct 2023

The Internet Watch Foundation is joining ECLAG coalition partners in a statement urging EU policymakers ‘to not fail children, victims and survivors and adopt ambitious measures to effectively protect children from sexual abuse and grooming.’

This comes in response to the announced political agreement between shadow Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) Committee rapporteurs on the proposed EU Regulation laying down rules to prevent and combat child sexual abuse.

The coalition of child rights NGOs fears important exclusions from the Regulation’s scope, such as grooming and voluntary detection, will weaken powers to effectively protect children online.

The full statement reads:

2023.10.26 - ECLAG Steering Group Statement in response to LIBE shadow rapporteurs agreement on the CSA Regulation

We as ECLAG Steering Group* take note of this week’s announcement about the political agreement between shadow rapporteurs on the Regulation laying down rules to prevent and combat child sexual abuse. While we welcome Parliament’s commitment to find a broad compromise including prevention measures, detection of known and unknown CSAM and the creation of Victim’s Rights and Survivors Forum within the EU Centre, we are gravely concerned about the exclusion of grooming from the Regulation’s scope of detection orders as well as the absence of a legal basis for providers to voluntarily detect and keep their platforms free of CSAM and grooming. The announced targeting of detection orders to only users suspected of sharing CSAM also risks greatly undermining the effectiveness of the Regulation, leading to a drastic reduction of the amount of CSAM detected, reported and removed, and effectively limiting the children protected by this Regulation.

As a consequence, this compromise does not fully address the protection of children and survivors of child sexual abuse and misses the historic opportunity for the EU to effectively tackle the horrific crimes, leaving children more vulnerable to child sexual abuse than today.

Trusting the commitment of all European Institutions to protect children’s rights in the face of increasing threats online, ECLAG calls on co-legislators to extend the scope of detection orders and create a framework for voluntary detection in the Regulation as part of ongoing negotiations. We call on all EU decision-makers to not fail children, victims and survivors and adopt ambitious measures to effectively protect children from sexual abuse and grooming.

* The European Child Sexual Abuse Legislation Advocacy Group (ECLAG) is a coalition of child rights NGOs joining forces to fight to protect children from sexual violence and abuse. ECLAG brings together over 65 European and global NGOs. It supports the #ChildSafetyON campaign to call for laws and policies to ensure children are safe online. ECLAG Steering Group includes Brave Movement, ECPAT International, Eurochild, Missing Children Europe, Internet Watch Foundation, Terre des Hommes and Thorn.

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