In the coming weeks, the Netherlands, like other European member states, will determine its position on the European Commission’s proposed regulation to prevent and combat (online) child sexual abuse. A letter with an urgent appeal has been sent from 12 organisations to several Dutch ministers and to members of the Parliamentary Committee for Justice and Security, explaining why the support of the Netherlands for this proposed regulation is so important, and asking them to use their role and influence to support this important regulation.
One in five children in Europe is a victim of sexual violence and abuse, and one in three reported cases of child sexual abuse involves a child under the age of 10. Every year, millions of images of child abuse circulate on the internet, the majority of which are hosted in the EU (60%), with a large part of this being in the Netherlands. It is high time that all EU countries take strong measures against this that are based on a thorough consideration of fundamental rights.
In the letter we underline among other things:
- That we are pleased that the proposed regulation focuses on a preventive approach to online child abuse by all online service providers and requires them to identify and mitigate risks to children. The protection of children and privacy can go hand-in-hand.
- There are many misunderstandings about the regulation. It does not impose a general supervision obligation, but rather provides for supervision in specific, risk-determined cases. The regulation does not call for any form of encryption to be ‘broken’, but rather stipulates that only detection technology that passes proper scrutiny should be used.
- That we identify several risks in the new legislation that require additional safeguards.
- That the legislation will increase the efficiency and scale of combating online child abuse.
- That detection technology is proven effective and is an indispensable part of a holistic response to online child abuse. We want the regulation to remain broad in scope so that it is future-proof and technologically neutral, without creating blind spots that will be exploited by perpetrators.
The letter is signed by core members of the Children’s Rights Collective (Terre des Hommes, Defence for Children – ECPAT, Save the Children, Children’s Stamps, National Youth Council) as well as UNICEF Netherlands, Plan International, Child Helpline International, Free a Girl, International Justice Mission, Centre against Child Trafficking and Human Trafficking, and Spine.