Computer & Communication Industry Association
PublishedJanuary 23, 2024

Fighting Child Abuse: Looming Legal Vacuum Requires Urgent Action, but Long-Term CSA Regulation Should Remain Priority

Brussels, BELGIUM – Swift action is needed to ensure the internet stays safe for children, more than 50 signatories warn the EU institutions in a joint statement. With negotiations on new EU rules to fight child sexual abuse (CSA) stalled, today’s temporary framework allowing for the investigation and prosecution of perpetrators is due to expire on 3 August.

While the European Parliament and Council started discussions on the proposal for a new EU regulation to prevent and combat CSA with an ambitious timeline, it increasingly looks less likely they will manage to strike a deal before the end of the legislative mandate. Given the fast-approaching expiration of the temporary derogation of certain provisions of the e-Privacy Directive, co-legislators now need to swiftly agree on the European Commission’s proposal to extend the temporary derogation (Interim Regulation) by at least two years. 

The Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA Europe) welcomes Member States’ recent agreement on a position and now urges both co-legislators to promptly agree on an extension ahead of the EU elections. Although the temporary derogation expires in six months, the outgoing Parliament only has a few weeks left to vote on any new legislation. 

Hence, CCIA Europe has joined forces with a broad stakeholder coalition from all across Europe – ranging from child protection NGOs to associations representing providers of interpersonal communications services (ICS), such as social media platforms – in issuing a joint statement today to sound the alarm.

Nevertheless, while the extension would allow ICS providers to continue their proactive work to protect children, it would be a transitory solution. It is fundamental that Europe’s long-term CSA Regulation is approved in the near future. Although Parliament’s negotiating mandate considerably improves the original proposal, more work is needed. 

A viable solution also still needs to be found that allows ICS providers to continue processing data for the purpose of preventing, detecting, reporting, and removing child sexual abuse from their services.

The following can be attributed to CCIA Europe’s Senior Policy Manager, Claudia Canelles Quaroni: 

“Given that negotiations on the EU’s future framework to fight child sexual abuse (CSA) are not making enough progress, this extension of the ePrivacy Directive’s temporary derogation is needed to avoid a legislative cliff-edge scenario in early August.”

“At the same time, this extension cannot be an excuse for any further delays in the adoption of the long-term CSA Regulation. The EU co-legislators need to step up their work and put in place a robust future framework that protects both children as well as everyone’s right to privacy.”

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