While some online service providers take an active role in fighting child sexual abuse, others are less involved. This creates gaps, which means that abuse can continue undetected. In addition, companies can change their policies at any time, making it difficult for authorities to prevent and combat child sexual abuse.
Detection and reporting child sexual abuse online in the EU relies now mainly on the US. On the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and on US legislation which requires service providers to report such content to the centre, rather than to law enforcement. At the moment, there is no central EU organisation that service providers can send their reports to. As a result, reports of abuse in the EU are sent to the US and then back to EU law enforcement agencies.
The EU centre aims to simplify this process. The EU centre will receive and allocate reports of child sexual abuse, greatly reducing the amount of time spent on identifying and filtering reports. At the present time, this is a serious problem due to the large number of reports received.
Currently, there is little oversight of the voluntary efforts to detect child sexual abuse online beyond the provision of this interim regulation.
The EU centre will collect data for transparency reports, provide clear information about the use of tools, and support audits of data and processes. The centre will also ensure that legitimate content is not taken down by mistake and that companies do not abuse or misuse the search tools.
The EU centre will serve as a facilitator, making the communication between service providers and EU countries more efficient. The centre will also greatly reduce the risk of data leaks in the communication between EU countries and service providers, which is important given the sensitive nature of the exchanged information.
EU countries have made progress in preventing child sexual abuse and supporting victims. However, a lot more could be improved, especially when it comes to exchanging best practices and knowledge across different countries. To be truly successful, existing networks for exchanging information between EU countries require a central facilitator. This facilitator will support and structure the exchange of best practices, information and research; organise meetings; and provide translations.
The centre will act as a hub of expertise to support EU countries in implementing effective prevention initiatives and providing comprehensive victim support.
The centre will work with service providers and law enforcement agencies of EU countries to ensure that victims receive timely support and offenders are brought to justice.
The centre will maintain a database of indicators of known child sexual abuse material, new material and grooming to help companies detect child abuse in their systems in line with EU data protection rules. Ensuring the centre’s accountability and transparency is our top priority.
To be able to play a facilitator role, it is important that the centre be independent from potentially overriding private and political interests. The centre will not be linked directly to service providers and law enforcement.
The centre will support EU countries in putting in place comprehensive, tested and effective prevention measures to reduce child sexual abuse in the EU. The centre will support and facilitate EU countries in their prevention efforts (both those focused on children and those on potential offenders).
The centre will ensure that there is no duplication of efforts. It will facilitate the exchange of best practices in the EU and beyond. The centre will encourage dialogue between relevant stakeholders, and help develop state-of-the-art research and knowledge.
It will also support victims in removing their images and videos to protect their privacy and will set up an online platform where they can find helpful resources.
And finally, the centre will carry out research to support evidence-based policy on assisting victims.