95% EUROPEANS POLLED WANT LAWS TO PROTECT CHILDREN FROM SEXUAL ABUSE ONLINE. WEEKS AHEAD OF THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION VOTE ON THE CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE REGULATION, ECPAT AND NSPCC DATA CONFIRMS EUROPEANS WANT CHILD SAFETY ONLINE ACROSS ALL PLATFORMS
Brussels — In a groundbreaking revelation close to the Council of the European Union vote on the Child Sexual Abuse Regulation, fresh polling data from ECPAT and NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) reveals that a staggering 95% of Europeans say it is important that there are laws in place to regulate online service providers to combat online child sexual abuse.
With an impressive 81% supporting moves to oblige online service providers to detect, report, and remove child sexual abuse online and 91% saying that online service providers should be required to design and adapt their services to prevent child sexual abuse and exploitation online, EU citizens have come together with a strong and loud message: EU leaders must do more to protect children online.
These findings come as no surprise. The latest Eurobarometer results confirm that 92% of Europeans believe that children are increasingly at risk of sexual abuse online, with 4 in 5 EU citizens in favour of the EU Proposal to combat child sexual abuse. The proposed law will make it mandatory for online service providers to assess and prevent any risk of child sexual abuse on their platforms and detect, report, and remove such content online.
Confirming Eurobarometer data, 71% of Europeans are willing to compromise some degree of their privacy online if it helps to protect children from potential sexual abuse and exploitation online, with more than 70% supporting the detection and removal of child sexual abuse material and grooming in end-to-end encrypted platforms.
In an unprecedented move, more than half of Europeans surveyed also declared that this issue would influence how they will vote in an election. With the next European Parliament’s elections set for June 2024, the stakes for MEPs could not be higher.
Amy Crocker, Head of Child Protection and Technology at ECPAT International said: Public sentiment remains unswayed by privacy debates that overshadow child protection needs. The demand for comprehensive legislation safeguarding our children online is urgent, immediate, and non-negotiable. EU leaders can no longer afford to be inactive or indecisive. Privacy is essential, but the well-being of our children must be the cornerstone of EU digital policies.
While the debate is coming to a close, the Internet Watch Foundation just released a new set of highly worrying data: the number of child sexual abuse material hosted in the EU has risen by an alarming 26% in 2023 compared to the same period last year, with an even more disturbing 54% increase in the most severe type of child sexual abuse material.
A global coalition of 104 sexual abuse survivors, families and child safety experts wrote to tech companies demanding them to act now to make sure their platforms are safe for children. The letter was spearheaded by Frida (not her real name), a survivor who was sexually abused via encrypted messaging app WhatsApp at 13 years old. The letter urges tech companies to engage with survivors to assess the child safety risks of new and current products, including end-to-end encrypted messaging services.
Frida* – a survivor who campaigns with the NSPCC, said: As a 13-year-old, I deserved to be safe, and I deserved the right to express myself on the internet. It is time for you to take responsibility for upholding the rights and safety of your users.
UK polling data also showed strong public support for tech companies to tackle child sexual abuse material, including in end-to-end encrypted environments. The UK poll run simultaneously with the EU found:
Sir Peter Wanless, NSPCC Chief Executive, said: This polling shows clear public support in the UK and EU for tech companies to tackle child sexual abuse, including in end-to-end encrypted environments. Lawmakers and tech executives should listen to the voices of survivors and the public by placing the safety of children at the centre of their decision-making.
About ECPAT International
ECPAT International stands as a united front of 126 civil society organisations spread across over 100 nations, each passionately committed to the shared vision of eradicating the sexual exploitation of children. Harnessing the power of over three decades of experience in multi-stakeholder engagement and partnership management, our expansive network operates on national, regional, and global levels. We relentlessly drive forward, fuelled by the conviction that every child deserves a world free from sexual exploitation.
For more information, please contact Andrew Beaton at firstname.lastname@example.org
The NSPCC is the leading children’s charity fighting to end child abuse in the UK and Channel Islands. Using voluntary donations, which make up around 90 per cent of our funding, we help children who’ve been abused to rebuild their lives, we protect children at risk, and we find the best ways of preventing child abuse from ever happening. So when a child needs a helping hand, we’ll be there. When parents are finding it tough, we’ll help. When laws need to change, or governments need to do more, we won’t give up until things improve.
Polling Methodology note:
Savanta interviewed 25,151 adults aged 18+ online in the UK (2061), France (2016), Germany (2012), Hungary (2000), Italy (2028), Netherlands (1007), Poland (2007), Sweden (2002), Spain (2000), Portugal (2003), Estonia (1004), Greece (1006), Finland (1001), Bulgaria (1001), Czechia (1003), and Austria (1000) between 30th August and 28th September 2023. Data were weighted to be representative of adults in each country by age, sex, and region. Savanta is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.