Legal protections against online child sex abuse (CSA) are facing a regulatory "cliff edge", NGOs have warned the European Union. (Photo by Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)


Online child-sex abuse laws face regulatory ‘cliff edge’, NGOs warn EU


Legal protections against online child-sex abuse (CSA) are facing a regulatory “cliff edge”, NGOs have warned the European Union.

A coalition of more than 50 groups involved in the protection of children, as well as the technology sector, are now pleading with EU lawmakers to extend an interim measure allowing for the derogation of certain privacy laws for the monitoring of CSA material.

In a joint statement, the groups commended recent efforts by Brussels to revamp its online CSA legislation.

They did, though, express concern that attempts to pass this new legislation appear to have now stagnated.

The new measures will not be implemented in time to replace ones before they expire in August, they argued.

“Whereas the Council and the European Parliament announced very ambitious timelines at the beginning of the discussions to ensure the proposal would be in force by the end of the legislative mandate, we are concerned about the lack of progress in the negotiations,” the group said.

The statement added that, while there were some months before the older measures expire, European bodies have just weeks left in the legislative year to ensure they are extended.

Speaking on the issue, Claudia Canelles Quaroni, the senior policy manager for the Computer & Communications Industry Association Europe (CCIA Europe), expressed disappointment that the new child-protection reforms had not yet been passed.

“Given that negotiations on the EU’s future framework to fight child sexual abuse 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,” she said.

Canelles Quaroni added that any extension should not be used by the EU to “justify” putting the planned reforms on the back burner.

“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,” she insisted, adding that the interim measures must not become “an excuse for any further delays”.