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Project Beacon

What does the public really think about the issues of policies regarding privacy and child protection online?

Over the last few years, conversations weighing the balance between online privacy and how to keep children safe online have increased, , but the issues are often confusing for non-experts. And while the debate is increasingly relevant for all internet users and the public, there is a risk that interest groups and even policymakers are speaking on behalf of the public without really knowing their views. This led the ECPAT network to ask, ‘what does the public really think about the issues of privacy and child protection online?’

In partnership with our member Defence for Children – ECPAT Netherlands and delivered by the internationally-recognised research company, YouGov, ECPAT conducted research in eight countries, across the European Union, to explore public attitudes towards online child protection and privacy.

The impetus for the study was the heated debate that took place in relation to a new regulation providing a temporary derogation from the Electronic Communications Code as part of the ePrivacy Directive. This regulation authorises technology companies, temporarily and with certain conditions and safeguards, to deploy specialised automated tools to voluntarily identify and detect child sexual abuse material. (You can learn more about the risks and impact of the regulation here.)

Our research was gathered from 9,410 adults in France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, and Spain in September 2021. The research has shown widespread public support for the use of tools to identify child sexual abuse materials, and for the European Union to introduce ensure longer-term changes to legislation that will keep children safe online.

The message from some of the largest countries in the European Union is clear: the public wants action to keep children safe, and they see automated tools as the answer. You can read our summary report of the research here and/or download the full data here.

Join us in calling on EU institutions to mandates that technology companies to always keep the automated tools that can detect, remove, and report images of child sexual abuse and exploitation turned on! 

Download the summary report
Download the policy brief
Download the full survey data
Download the press release

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