Public Opinion is Clear: Urgent Legislation Required to Protect Children from Sexual Exploitation! Read the story

ECPAT International Warns: Children Will Be Failed by European Parliament’s Shortsighted Compromise on Online Child Protection Laws

Posted on Oct 27, 2023

Politicians are Leaving Europe’s Children at Greater Risk than Ever 

Brussels, 27.10.23

ECPAT International condemns the European Parliament’s recent announcement on online child safety laws. This ill-advised draft not only defies the will of the European public, but it also most alarmingly leaves our children perilously exposed to heightened risks of online sexual abuse and exploitation. 

Amy Crocker, Head of Child Protection and Technology at ECPAT International, declares:

“Let’s be clear—in seeking compromise, the LIBE Committee has added to the insecurity of children online. The so-called compromise leaves our children unprotected and their abusers unaccountable purely by choosing one platform over another.” 

Implications of the Compromise: 

On Targeted Detection Order on Individual Suspicion: 

  • The requirement for individual suspicion may appear prudent but is already covered under current laws that allow for judicial oversight.  
  • Amy Crocker elaborates, “Limiting detection orders to targeted cases where there is suspicion demonstrates a lack of understanding of how these offences manifest online. It significantly limits the scope of proactive detection technologies, which are essential for the timely detection and removal of the volume of illegal content from online platforms including and specifically in private channels.” 

On Dropping Voluntary Detection: 

  • The absence of voluntary detection as a risk mitigation measure creates a legal vacuum, particularly for emerging platforms. 
  • Amy adds: “By neglecting to provide a long-term legal basis for voluntary action by online platforms, this compromise will put bureaucracy in the way of innovation and fail to do the right thing for children.” 

On Dropping E2EE: 

  • “Choosing to exclude end-to-end encryption (E2EE) from the scope of the Regulation creates an easy loophole for both perpetrators and service providers,” warns Amy. 

On Dropping Grooming: 

  • “The compromised legislation falls short by not encompassing all forms of child sexual abuse, thereby doing a disservice to the children it purports to protect.” 

Public Opinion and the Need for Action  

An overwhelming 95% of Europeans support laws to govern child safety online, while 91% understand the growing risks facing our children. These are not abstract statistics but a resounding public mandate for immediate, robust legislative action. 

Amy Crocker urges: “We invite parents, caregivers, and citizens throughout Europe to join us in demanding more from our leaders. It is crucial that elected EU Parliamentarians in the LIBE Committee listen to their constituents and revise this legislation to protect our children adequately.” 

“ECPAT International will continue to advocate for the highest standards of child protection, online and offline. These decisions are complex, but turning the clock back on safeguarding goes against everything that the EU stands for.” 

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