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  • Matilda Sandvik

Protect Children's Consultation to the European Commission on fighting child sexual abuse


Suojellaan Lapsia, Protect Children ry. Consultation to the European Commission on: Fighting child sexual abuse: detection, removal and reporting of illegal content online

Protect Children recently gave a consultation to the European Commission on the Proposal for a regulation laying down rules to prevent and combat child sexual abuse. The proposed legislation suggests several important features, including requiring online service providers (OSPs) to conduct risk assessments and making the detection, reporting, and swift removal of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) mandatory on high-risk platforms through detection orders.

In the statement, Protect Children underlined the significance and great necessity of the proposal to ensure the realisation of the rights of the child, while recognising the impact that the legislation could have on the enjoyment of other fundamental rights, particularly the rights to privacy and protection of personal data. In discussions related to developing greater safeguards for children online, it is unfortunate how these rights are most commonly weighed against the fundamental rights of children to be protected from violence. What many critics of the proposal seem to not be considering is that many major companies are already using technologies to detect CSAM and illegal conduct on their platforms and have been doing so for years without a strong legislation aimed specifically at regulating the conduct.

Furthermore, the proposed positive duty to perform risk assessments to identify potential significant risks on platforms constitutes an important way of promoting safety by design. Increasingly implementing safety by design could in the long run help prevent scenarios where interferences to the rights to privacy and personal data protection are necessary through detection orders. Rather than disproportionally infringing on privacy rights, the proposed legislation would in reality introduce meaningful safeguards and measures to protect these rights in the process.

While finding a balance between fundamental rights is never an easy task, Protect Children ultimately found that the proposed legislation had carefully evaluated and applied the principle of proportionality. In the statement, Protect Children proposed three key themes to be carefully considered in the development and possible implementation of the proposed legislation, so that it can continue to respect the balance between all fundamental rights at play and further limit any negative interferences with other rights, namely by ensuring increased transparency, efficiency and safeguarding. Read more about these points below.


  • The legislation must require transparency of measures taken by OSPs, and technologies used to detect CSAM and grooming.

  • In addition to the already proposed transparency measures, Protect Children encourages a requirement to provide information on what technology is used, its error rates (instances where conduct/content is flagged incorrectly), actions taken in response to erroneous reports and the amount of illegal content or conduct detected on the platform during a specific period. This information shall be easily accessible for users of the service and the general public.

  • Protect Children encourages transparency on the risk assessments taken by OSPs, and if a detection order is issued, what impact it has had on the safety of their services, and how they will in the future develop their services to prevent further risks.

  • Transparency should also be ensured for the conduct of courts or appointed independent authorities issuing detection orders, including information on how many detection orders are issued in a specific amount of time, amount of time taken to issue a detection order following a request as well as on the reasonings behind the issuing (e.g., how the fair balance between rights was considered).

  • We also encourage great transparency in the conduct of the proposed EU Centre, which would include information on how many reports are assessed, in which timeframe, origin of the reports and error rates.




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