Fighting sexual abuse of children: Commission welcomes political agreement on interim rules for voluntary detection measures by online service providers

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


The Commission welcomes today’s political agreement between the European Parliament and the Council on the proposed interim legislation regarding the detection of child sexual abuse online by communications services. This legal adjustment was urgently needed to give certain online communications services such as webmail and messaging services legal certainty in their voluntary measures to detect and report child sexual abuse online and to remove child sexual abuse material, as such services fell under the e-Privacy Directive as of 21 December 2020. The new Regulation will provide guarantees to safeguard privacy and protection of personal data. The voluntary measures play an important role in enabling the identification and rescue of victims and reducing the further dissemination of child sexual abuse material, and contribute to the identification and investigation of offenders as well as the prevention of offences. 

The rules agreed today have a narrow scope: they will create a temporary and strictly limited derogation concerning the voluntary detection activities of the online communication services. The main elements of today’s agreement include: 

  • A definition of child sexual abuse online in line with the existing EU rules on child sexual abuse, including content constituting child sexual abuse material and solicitation of children. 
  • Complaint mechanisms so that content that has been removed erroneously can be reinstated as soon as possible. 
  • Human oversight for any processing of personal data including, where necessary, human confirmation before reporting to law enforcement authorities or organisations acting in the public interest. 
  • Guarantees to protect privacy: Service providers will have to ensure that the technologies they use to detect child sexual abuse online are the least privacy-intrusive.  
  • Data protection safeguards: Service providers will have to consult with data protection authorities on their processing to detect and report child sexual abuse online and remove child sexual abuse material. The European Data Protection Board will also be asked to publish guidelines to assist the relevant authorities in assessing compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation of the processing in scope of the agreed Regulation.  
  • The Commission will have to establish a public register of organisations acting in the public interest against child sexual abuse, with which providers of online communications services can share personal data resulting from the voluntary measures. 
  • Transparency and accountability to be supported by annual transparency reports. 
  • A 3-year limit on the application of the Regulation, allowing time for the adoption of long-term legislation in this area. 

Next steps

The Regulation must now be formally adopted by the European Parliament and the Council.

This interim Regulation will cease to apply at the latest 3 years from its application. As announced in the EU Strategy for a more effective fight against child sexual abuse and in the Commission Work Programme for 2021, the Commission will propose later this year new comprehensive legislation with detailed safeguards to fight child sexual abuse online and offline. These long-term rules will be intended to replace the interim legislation agreed today.

Members of the College said: 

Executive Vice-President for a Europe fit for the digital age, Margrethe Vestager said: “Today’s agreement helps to make the Internet safer for children, which is one of our priorities. The temporary derogation in the Regulation agreed today provides legal clarity on voluntary actions to detect, report and remove child sexual abuse. Both for users and providers of online communications services. At the same time, the legislation contains the necessary safeguards regarding the protection of fundamental rights of users.”   

Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, said: “Protecting our children online as we do offline is our priority. Today’s agreement fills the legal gap to allow lawful voluntary practices by online communications services, like webmail and messaging services, to combat child sexual abuse in their services. These practices have to comply with the GDPR and the safeguards and conditions set out in the Regulation agreed today. The European Electronics Communication Code and the ePrivacy Directive continue to apply to all other activities of these providers and scanning of emails or messaging services for profiling remains banned.” 

Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, said: “When service providers voluntarily detect, report and remove child sexual abuse online, they help children, not just by preventing the traumatic circulation of imagery of their abuse, but also in real time, rescuing them from a situation of ongoing abuse. The drop in reporting we witnessed in recent months means that children continued to suffer unnoticed. Today’s agreement gives the necessary legal certainty for companies to continue to detect and report the abuse of children, with strong safeguards. I am working on proposals for long-term rules in this area.” 

Background 

As announced in the EU Strategy for a more effective fight against child sexual abuse, the Commission proposed in September last year an interim legislation to ensure that providers of certain online communications services, like webmail or messaging services, can continue their voluntary measures to detect and report child sexual abuse online and to remove child sexual abuse material beyond 21 December 2020, when these providers fell within the scope of the e-Privacy Directive due to the modernised definitions in the European Electronic Communications Code. The e-Privacy Directive does not contain an explicit legal basis for voluntary processing of content or traffic data for the purpose of detecting and reporting child sexual abuse online and removing child sexual abuse material. The proposed interim legislation creates a temporary and strictly limited derogation enabling those providers to maintain their activities to detect and report child sexual abuse online and remove child sexual abuse material on their services.  

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

UN chief welcomes South Sudan’s Unity government, lauds parties for ‘significant achievement’

With lifelong learning, you too can join the digital workplace

Legendary Harlem Globetrotters slam-dunk at the UN, with message that brings families, nations together

German stock market is not affected by the Greek debt revolution while Athens is running out of time

A Europe that delivers: EU citizens expect more EU level action in future

Ukraine: Temperatures plunge amid rising humanitarian needs

How to talk about climate change: 5 tips from the front lines

This Canadian start-up turns millions of chopsticks into sustainable furniture

OECD Secretary-General Gurría welcomes announcement of new trade agreement between the US, Mexico and Canada

How tech is helping the agriculture sector curb carbon emissions

2019 data on official development aid & online discussion of ODA’s role in the Covid-19 crisis

Spanish vote – bad luck for Greece: Does Iphigenia need to be sacrificed for favourable winds to blow in Eurozone?

How three US cities are using data to end homelessness

MEPs want to ensure sufficient funding for Connecting Europe’s future

Post-Brexit muddled times: the resignation of UK’s top ambassador and Theresa May’s vague plans

Re-open EU: Commission launches a website to safely resume travelling and tourism in the EU

How to make primary healthcare a favourable career choice for medical students: strategies and reflections

Eastern Partnership: Commission proposes new policy objectives for beyond 2020

What if big-tech companies became non-profits?

South Sudan: UN rights experts see little headway on peace deal amid spike in local-level violence

UN official sees ‘unprecedented opportunities’ to make progress on peace in Afghanistan

Commission supports reform projects in Member States for more jobs and sustainable growth

Polish de facto ban on abortion puts women’s lives at risk, says Parliament

Mobile health technology: Advances, Facilitations and Promotion of Autonomy

Road injuries leading cause of death for the young, despite safety gains: UN report

State aid: Commission approves up to €4 billion French measure to recapitalise Air France

Iran: UN rights chief ‘deeply disturbed’ by continuing executions of juvenile offenders

This afternoon Britain will be once more isolated from mainland Europe

MEPs want ambitious funding for cross-border projects to connect people

EU’s guidelines on net neutrality see the light although grey areas do remain

Why South Africa is on a path of economic renewal

Built by a woman: supporting the dreams of mum entrepreneurs

Texting is a daily source of stress for 1/3 of people – are you one of them?

Pandemic versus fear

A breath of fresh air: How three disused industrial areas became beautiful parks

Will the French let Macron destroy their party political system?

Pro-EU forces won a 70% triumph in the European elections

Norway has successfully enforced its foreign bribery laws but faces potential obstacles

EU is not only obsessed with Facebook but also blaims now innocent websites using social plugins to serve democratic dialogues?

Right-wing “sovranism” harm national identity

EU revengefully shows no mercy to Cameron by demanding a fast and sloppy Brexit now

What wealth managers can learn from family dynamics

How global food safety protects the planet and begins on the farm

OECD: Mind the financial gap that lies ahead

Why collaboration will be key to creating the workforce of the future

Green Deal: How MEPs wish to channel EU investment to sustainable activities

VW emissions scandal: While U.S. car owners are vindicated, Europe still unable to change its laws and protect its consumers

If on a summer’s night: is UK businesses’ “new deal” the only key to the “best of all worlds”?

The needs, challenges and power dynamics of refugee resettlement

A jingoistic Spanish ‘war’ from the past

Euro celebrates its 20th birthday

Students & Allies Unite Globally To Launch #Students_Against_COVID

This team of Saudi women designed an award-winning app to make the Hajj safer

Here’s how we get businesses to harmonize on climate change

Forty-two countries adopt new OECD Principles on Artificial Intelligence

No more lead in PVC to protect public health, say MEPs

‘Multiplicity’ of rights violations in Ukraine as fifth winter of conflict bites

5G: How a ‘legion of robots’ could help save the rhino

It’s Trump’s anti-globalization and inward-looking rhetoric that perturbs GOP and US

‘No shortcuts to a healthier world’: WHO chief sets out health priorities for the decade

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s