Today the Commission proposed interim legislation to ensure that providers of online communications services can continue to apply voluntary measures for the detection and reporting of child sexual abuse online, and removal of child sexual abuse material.
Detection, reporting and removal are imperative for saving the victims, not only in terms of the trauma of images circulating, but sometimes in real-time, to rescue them from a situation of ongoing abuse.
Without the interim Regulation adopted today, voluntary practices to detect, report and remove child sexual abuse would not be possible beyond December 2020 when the European Electronic Communications Code will fully apply.
With the full application of the European Electronic Communications Code, certain online communication services, such as webmail or messaging services, will fall under the scope of the e-Privacy Directive. This Directive does not contain an explicit legal basis to continue the current voluntary practices.
Confidentiality of communications must not protect perpetrators of child abuse. This is why the Regulation creates a temporary and strictly limited derogation from the application of certain obligations of the e-Privacy Directive for communication services for the sole purpose of detecting and reporting child sexual abuse online, and removing child sexual abuse material.
As announced in the EU strategy for a more effective fight against child sexual abuse of 24 July 2020, the Commission will propose long-term legislation to tackle child sexual abuse online effectively, including by requiring relevant companies to detect and report to public authorities known materials. The interim regulation will serve until the long-term measure is in place.