The National Network for Children, along with 46 other organizations from around the world, supported an Open Letter by the European Child Sexual Abuse Legislation Advocacy Group (ECLAG) on amendments to the EU Regulation on preventing and combating sexual abuse of children.
On 11 May 2022, the European Commission adopted a proposal for mandatory legislation to combat what is an escalating problem. Reporting of suspected online child sexual abuse increased by 35% in 2021 compared with 2020, representing a historical peak. Most of the activities detected were hosted in Europe.
In March this year, after an official meeting between representatives of the EC and members of ECLAG in Brussels, the texts of the Regulation were discussed. With a high appreciation of the work of the experts in the European Commission on the legislation so far, ECLAG provides its principal observations and recommendations to be included in the revision of the document. Among them:
- Keeping the full scope to the Regulation and allowing all threats to children online to be covered by the legislation. Known, unknown CSAM and grooming must all be legislated Inclusion of the Victims’ Consultative Forum, thus ensuring the inclusion of the voices of those with lived experience of childhood sexual violence, including on the assessment of technologies used to detect and remove CSAM and grooming.
- ECLAG welcomes more concrete responsibilities and participation in decision-making for members of the Forum, notably through ensuring a seat for victims on the Management Board of the EU Centre, while guaranteeing the views of all children affected by this regulation are heard and taken into account within the EU Centre.
- Neutrality with regard to the technologies used, and specifically that the Regulation remains open to innovation of the most cutting edge privacy-preserving tools, as E2EE (End-to-end encryption) is an undisputed proven method to protect privacy, data and rights, but also a safe haven for the exchange of criminal content.
- ECLAG welcomes the focus on empowering parents and caregivers, coordinating education and awareness across the Union, and ensuring age-appropriate access to services that offer age-appropriate and accessible reporting mechanisms. In this sense, it also welcomes the additional consideration given to the role of hotlines in the existing ecosystem and would love to see this expanded further to include missing children hotlines.
The National Network for Children supports the recommendations outlined in the ECLAG position and agrees with their Open Letter to the relevant EU working groups. Together with us, the Open Letter is supported by human rights organizations from all over the world, including Germany, Romania, Croatia, Hungary, Norway, Portugal, Finland, Ireland, Korea, the Philippines, and many more.
The European Child Sexual Abuse Legislation Advocacy Group (ECLAG) is an informal coalition of NGOs and IGOs fighting to protect children from sexual violence and abuse. The ECLAG Group has been established to join forces in the advocacy around the Child Sexual Abuse Regulation proposed by the European Commission in May 2022. ECLAG brings together more than 60 organizations present in Europe and globally. The steering group consists of the Brave Movement, ECPAT, Missing Children Europe, IWF, Terre des Hommes and Thorn.