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Published 30.06.22

Public Consultations on EU rules regards combating child sexual - Have your say now!

Jutta Croll, Stiftung Digitale Chancen

Through two consultations, the Commission is seeking the views of EU citizens on existing and future regulatory measures to combat child sexual abuse.

The public consultation, which is open until July 13 2022, aims to evaluate and possibly revise the EU Sexual Abuse Directive, and it is part of the data collection activities following the Inception Impact Assessment published in September - October 2021. This public consultation will inform the evaluation and revision of the EU Child Sexual Abuse Directive, and give citizens and stakeholders the opportunity to provide their feedback on current and future challenges in combatting child sexual abuse, sexual exploitation and child sexual abuse material and possible ways to reinforce, develop and update the existing framework.

Furthermore, the consultation of the new regulatory proposal "Combating Child Sexual Abuse: Detection, Removal and Reporting of Illegal Content Online" is open until September 2022.

Child sexual abuse (CSA) can take multiple forms which can occur both online (e.g. forcing a child to engage in sexual activities via live streaming or exchanging child sexual abuse material (CSAM) online) and offline (e.g. engaging in sexual activities with a child or causing a child to participate in child prostitution). When the abuse is also recorded and shared online, the harm is perpetuated. The EU Directive on combating child sexual abuse, sexual exploitation and child pornography (2011/93) is the main EU legal instrument to combat these crimes. The Directive sets out a comprehensive response, in particular: - It approximates definitions of criminal offences, sets minimum levels for criminal penalties and facilitates reporting, investigations and prosecution of such crimes - It sets out prevention measures, including awareness raising, and intervention programmes for offenders and persons who fear they might offend, - It reinforces provision of support to victims including prevention of additional trauma caused by participating in criminal proceedings.

On 24 July 2020, the Commission adopted the EU Strategy on a more effective fight against child sexual abuse, which proposes concrete actions to set up a comprehensive response to these crimes. One of the actions is to evaluate the EU Directive which has been in place since 2011 to identify best practices and any remaining legislative gaps. If necessary, new priority actions will be proposed to ensure that this legislation continues to reach the goals that it sets out to achieve.

The Commission presented a new regulatory proposal on 11 May, "Combating Child Sexual Abuse: Detecting, Removing and Reporting Illegal Content Online." This is now open for public consultation, initially until 5 September (midnight CEST). This deadline is continuously moving backwards until the regulatory proposal is published in all EU languages.

Some providers are already voluntarily using technology to detect, report, and eliminate child sexual abuse online in their services. However, the actions taken by providers vary widely and a significant number are not yet taking any action at all. According to a recent impact assessment, voluntary measures to combat child sexual abuse online are insufficient, so the Commission is planning to introduce mandatory measures.

The proposed Regulation consists of two main building blocks:

  1. It imposes obligations on providers concerning the detection, reporting, removal and blocking of known and new child sexual abuse material, as well as solicitation of children, regardless of the technology used in the online exchanges
  2. It establishes the EU Centre on Child Sexual Abuse as a decentralised agency to enable the implementation of the new Regulation.

Taking part in the consultation is possible via the EU consultation system. You can find the consultation process here

To participate in this process you need to log into the Ecas system with your credentials or create a new account.