EP Ready to Discuss Proposal to Combat Child Sexual Abuse Online
12 December 2023
Pingen Kopie Dr. Anna Pingen

On 14 November 2023, the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) adopted the draft Parliament position on new measures to protect children by preventing and stopping child sexual abuse online. Then, on 22 November 2023, the plenary of the European Parliament adopted its negotiating mandate for the new law, meaning that trilogue negotiations can start as soon as the Council has adopted its position.

The proposed regulations are designed to protect children online by requiring internet service providers (ISPs) to assess whether there is a significant risk of their services being used for online child sexual abuse and grooming and to take steps to mitigate such risks. To prevent widespread or general surveillance of the Internet, the proposed legislation would empower judicial authorities to issue time-limited orders as a last resort in order to identify and remove or disable access to child sexual abuse material (CSAM). The proposal has been the subject of much controversy (→ eucrim 2/2022, 91-92, → eucrim 3/2022, 173 and → eucrim 1/2023, 13-14).

MEPs stressed the importance of targeting identification orders to specific individuals or groups on the basis of "reasonable grounds of suspicion". They have excluded end-to-end encryption from the scope of the detection order.

Service providers would have the flexibility to choose technologies as long as they comply with the robust safeguards outlined in the legislation and are subject to an independent, public audit of those technologies. MEPs also want providers to have the autonomy to choose which mitigation measures to apply, and they want these measures to be effective, targeted, and proportionate.

Above all, to ensure that victims' voices are heard, MEPs propose the creation of a new Victims' Rights and Survivors' Consultative Forum.