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12 Sep, 2023

Open letter to urge support for the EU Regulation to prevent and combat child sexual abuse

Parent and child in front of a laptop

As seen in the European Commission’s latest Flash Eurobarometer survey on the protection of children against online sexual abuse, 78% of the respondents tend to support or strongly support the Commission’s proposal  for a Regulation to prevent and combat child sexual abuse. At the moment, the proposed Regulation is being discussed in the European Parliament and the Council of the EU, who have to formulate their positions. With a recent open letter addressed to Members of the European Parliament and Representatives of Member States in the Council of the EU, leading experts from around the world, among which COFACE Director Elizabeth Gosme, urge support for the Commission’s proposal.

This letter in support of the proposed EU Regulation to prevent and combat child sexual abuse has 169 signatories drawn from technologists, academics, NGOs and advocates in over 30 countries including almost every EU Member State. Among other things it reminds everyone that if the Regulation does not pass then, as things stand, on the 3rd of August next year it will become illegal for any internet company operating within the EU to use technical tools to detect child sexual abuse online in communication services. The Interim CSA Regulation providing for a temporary derogation of certain articles in the e-Privacy Directive, which allows online communication services to voluntary detect online CSA, will expire on that date.

Furthermore, the letter draws attention to the fact that prevention is a major focus of the proposed Regulation. By requiring risk assessments and mitigation measures linked to child safety by design, a major part of the Regulation aims to prevent children from being harmed by sexual abuse, facilitate the detection of online grooming behaviours and reduce the risk of victimisation. Mandatory detection orders are a last resort, to be used only when the risk mitigation measures put in place are seen to be insufficient.

You can read the full open letter here: Open Letter to support EU CSA Regulation

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COFACE Families Europe has joined a coalition of more than 60 European and international civil society organisations working to end child sexual abuse on and offline: the European Child Sexual Abuse Legislation Advocacy Group (ECLAG).

To also support the current EU proposal to better prevent and combat child sexual abuse, you can sign the petition established by the Justice Initiative and supported by the Child Safety ON! Campaign here: Sign the Petition (childsafetyineurope.com).

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