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Published 12.02.24

Realising lasting child protection from sexual abuse


As part of the Europe-wide consultation process, the Stiftung Digitale Chancen (Digital Opportunities Foundation) has submitted a statement on the planned extension of the derogation from the ePrivacy Directive. In this statement, it welcomes the European Commission's initiative and proposes that the time window opening up for further consultation on the draft legislation should also be used to achieve concrete progress on critical issues such as the detection of illegal depictions of sexual abuse against children in encrypted environments and age verification on the internet. Both issues currently pose major obstacles to reaching an agreement. Nevertheless, the supposedly insurmountable differences should not lead to urgently needed protective measures for children not being realised online. It is therefore necessary to rethink these issues. The statement can be read here.

The reason for the consultation process is the European Commission's plan to extend the existing derogation from the ePrivacy Directive by two years until 3 August 2026. This is intended to ensure that certain communication service providers will still be able to voluntarily detect and report depictions of sexual violence against children online in the coming months. The extension of the derogation is planned as the legislative process on the European Commission's draft on preventing and combating child sexual abuse is still ongoing. This law is intended to provide for appropriate safety measures in the long term and replace the derogation.

In the meantime, the European Council has expressed its support for a three-year extension of the derogation, while the European Parliament wants to see the extension of the derogation limited to a further nine months. In the upcoming trilogue negotiations, the institutions will have to agree on a common position.