How are poverty and rigid gender stereotypes placing boys in Morocco at risk of sexual exploitation?  Read the full report

Placing children’s rights into the heart of the EU’s digital policy

Why you too should be advocating for the rights of all children to live safe and secure lives in both digital and physical spaces.

Following society’s ever-increasing reliance on digital technologies and the internet for just about everything, there have been questions about the effects for children accessing and relying on the internet to play, learn, and socialise. With the explosion of both social and educational platforms, it has never been easier or more important for children to access the internet. ECPAT believes that it is a child’s right to access internet and all the possibilities that digital spaces offer. It is an essential part of their lives nowadays.

Education, awareness-raising, and empowering children online are essential if we want to ensure their safety.

ECPAT’s global study ‘Disrupting Harm’ on online child sexual exploitation and abuse has shown that children want to learn how to stay safe online. Rather than just hearing about the dangers of online spaces, they want education and training on how to safely navigate the digital world we all live in.  

Children should be aware of the risks of child sexual abuse and grooming online. However, child safety online is much more than children being aware of online, and it cannot rely only on children awareness of the risks they might face. The onus of protecting children online should not fall entirely onto caregivers, parents, and teachers either. More needs to be done on the side of the internet service providers, tech companies, and policy makers.

ECPAT continues to work in close partnership with organisations across the EU and globally to advocate that child safety online remains a priority in the EU and beyond. Every child has the right to #BeSafeOnline. 

Policy change to better protect children

What is Project Beacon campaigning for?

ECPAT calls on the EU Institutions to activate #ChildSafety online. 

In 2020, ECPAT launched Project Beacon as a response to the many concerns surrounding the changes to digital rights policies in the EU. Our team began advocating to ensure that online service providers commit and work to prevent and end all forms of online child sexual abuse online on their platforms, while adopting preventive measures, such as age verification tools, to ensure that their online platforms are #SafeByDeisgn. What does it mean? Learn more about safety by design — read ECPAT’s article.  

Project Beacon aims to raise awareness and advocate for children’s rights in the digital world, and engage with concerned parties across the EU and beyond. By calling on EU policymakers and EU citizens to take action, ECPAT aims to influence the adoption of robust, harmonised policies, and a legal framework that will ensure child safety becomes a top priority in digital spaces and encrypted environments across EU member states. 

How far are we to ensure Child Safety Online in the EU? Read our timeline of events towards child safety online in the EU.

“Regulation can help us engage in meaningful conversation about the protection of children from violence online.”   

Amy Crocker, Head of Child Protection and Technology, ECPAT International

 What are ECPAT’s key asks?

  • Risk assessment and safety by design measures: The goal is to prevent harm before it occurs, rather than work on “remedies” after children have been placed at risk. We support the EC’s proposal to mandate online service providers to assess the risks that children might face using online services, such as online games, messaging and social media platforms, and ensure that online platforms are developed with child safety in mind. For example, online service providers should use age verification tools to ensure only those who are old enough can gain access to certain websites. Another example is to implement tools that automatically filter the content which is uploaded on certain platforms, such as on social media sites, to detect Child Sexual Abuse Material in advance (CSAM). Learn more.  


  • Voluntary action and legal responsibility to detect, report, and remove child sexual abuse material online: Online companies should play their part in ensuring child safety online. Each time child sexual abuse material is shared online, online service providers should be required to detect, report, and remove it. We support the continuation of voluntary actions taken by online service providers with clear legal basis and safeguards. However, when looking at the exponentially growing scope of the problem, it’s clear that voluntary action alone won’t be enough to ensure child safety online. There must be a legal requirement for online service providers to detect, report, and remove child sexual abuse material and prevent any form of child sexual abuse online, including known or new material, as well as grooming online, on all online platforms — including end-to-end encrypted ones. Learn more.


  • Strengthen European capacities: European law enforcement agencies are highly dependent on the United States for a large proportion of online child sexual abuse reports. We welcome the European Commission’s plan to create an appointed EU centre that will focus on preventing and combatting online child sexual abuse. We need an EU centre to help coordinate a robust EU response and urge for greater clarity on the cooperation and integration with the work of the existing organisations working to protect children online, such as civil society groups, law enforcement agencies, and technology companies. Learn more


  • Safeguards, transparency, and trust: We support the strong safeguards that the proposed Regulation will put in place to ensure that online service providers and the technology used to detect child abuse respects the fundamental rights of all users, including children. The use of automated technology tools combined with the efforts of law enforcement agencies and human oversight should respect the right of European citizens to their privacy online. Only  material that will be recognised as a possible  child sexual abuse online should be detected — and current technology, such as the hashing mechanism, makes this possible. We need a coherent, clear. and harmonised procedure to tackle child sexual abuses online and ensure trust and transparency between European citizens and the institutionsd. These issues are too important and sensitive to rely on voluntary best efforts.


  • Survivors’ support: Every child victim of sexual exploitation and abuse online has the fundamental right to receive adequate support. This is not negotiable. We support the implementation of support and redress mechanisms for victims of child sexual abuse in the EU. In addition, the proposed Regulation should acknowledge the rights of non-EU victims who have their abuse spread and hosted by online service providers operating in the EU.


Children have a voice!  

Children voices must be included in every decision that affects their lives and well-being. ECPAT believes that children should be involved at every stage of any legislative process that affects them. In particular, policy makers should continuously assess the impact of legislations, such as the European Commission’s proposed regulation, on children’s rights. 

“Will we continue to fail child victims of online abuse, or we will stand for their right to be safe online?”

Amy Crocker, Head of Child Protection and Technology, ECPAT International 


We look forward to working with all interested parties, to share our expertise, and create a safe world for children online. A coordinated response against online threats to children is the only way to turn the tide on child sexual exploitation and abuse online.

What is next for Project Beacon?   

Project Beacon will continue to advocate for change and ensure child safety online in the digital spaces both on the long-term perspective and urgent matters.  

There is a collective effort between ECPAT members in EU Member States, ECPAT International, and other child rights organisations across the EU: Together, we are informing and influencing the public and media debate around these crucial issues.

ECPAT International invites you to join us as we advocate for the rights of children online. Change cannot be achieved without your help, and we welcome all voices on the topic. Get in touch and stay tuned for exciting developments to come!   

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