Service providers may continue to apply voluntary measures to detect, report and remove pedophile content
In a context of worrying increase in child sexual abuse material on the Internet exacerbated by the pandemic, the Chamber supported with 537 votes in favor, 133 against and 24 abstentions a law to more effectively protect minors from sexual abuse and exploitation by use email, chat and messaging services.
The agreement reached in April temporarily repeals the provisions of Article 5, paragraph 1, and Article 6, paragraph 1, of Directive 2002/58 / EC, which protects the confidentiality of communications and traffic data. This legislation will apply for a maximum of three years, or less if new permanent rules on combating child sexual abuse online are agreed in the meantime.
Under the new rules, email, chat and messaging providers will be able to continue to detect, report and remove content of child sexual abuse on the internet, although they will not be obliged to do so. alleged abuses of police and judicial authorities or public interest organizations that combat the sexual abuse of minors. Service providers should use technologies that are the least intrusive to privacy as possible.
Online content related to child sexual abuse is detected by specific tools that scan content, such as images and text, or traffic data. While the technology of hash functions is used to analyze images and videos, classifiers and artificial intelligence are used for text or traffic data. These new rules will not apply to scanning audio communications.
Strengthening privacy protection
MEPs insisted on establishing adequate recourse procedures and mechanisms so that people can file complaints if they believe their rights have been violated. National data protection authorities will be able to better control the technological tools used by service providers. To do this, they will use impact assessments and prior consultation procedures.
Rapporteur Birgit Sippel (S&D, Germany) stated after the vote: “Child sexual abuse is a horrible crime that violates human rights. We need to prevent it more effectively, prosecute more offenders and offer better support to survivors. The agreement is a compromise between detecting child sexual abuse online and protecting the privacy of users. It may not be perfect, but it is a workable and temporary solution for the next three years. We now urgently need the Commission to come up with a long-term solution that is inspired by the data protection safeguards of the temporary rules and also makes the scanning of private communications more targeted. ‘
This legislative change was necessary so that web service providers could continue to apply voluntary measures to combat and prevent the dissemination of child sexual abuse content on the internet, following the full implementation of the European Code of Electronic Communications in December 2020.
The Commission intends to propose a permanent solution to this problem throughout 2021.