ECLAG applauds progress to advance child safety online in the EU

A report by the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) Committee’s rapporteur in the European Parliament on the Regulation to Prevent and Combat Child Sexual Abuse was welcomed in an open letter signed by child rights organizations on 4 May 2023. 

ECLAG, a coalition of child rights and child protection organizations, commends the April 2023 report from MEP Javier Zarzalejos. Their determination to push forward this legislation and ensure children’s rights are placed at the heart of the EU’s digital policies marks a vital step forward. 

ECLAG welcomes the report and the Rapporteur’s approach as it:

  • Ensures the Regulation will apply to tackling child sexual abuse in all its forms (known, unknown CSAM and grooming) and to all spaces in which children are present online;
  • Reintroduces the possibility for online service providers to voluntarily detect child sexual abuse material and grooming online;
  • Reinforces the measures to allow safety by design of internet services;
  • Proposes the creation of a Victims’ Forum in the EU Centre, allowing victims and survivors to have their voices heard.

However, ECLAG is also urging EU policy makers in the European Parliament’s LIBE Committee to maintain a sharp focus on children’s needs. 

We propose the following set of additional amendments to the legislation to further improve the protection of children online and full participation of those with lived experience of child sexual abuse: 

  • The regulation must allow online service providers to voluntarily detect, report, and remove child sexual abuse material online, with all the necessary safeguards but through a rapid procedure;
  • Survivors of childhood sexual violence must be able to  take part in decisions made in the EU Centre and have a seat at its Management Board;
  • An EU Centre must be fully independent, adopt a victim-centered approach, offer legal support and advice on referral to specialist medical or mental health services;
  • The regulation must remain technology neutral and applicable to all spaces on the internet where the sharing of digital content is possible.

Read the full Open Letter here