EU ministers join forces against spike in online dissemination of child sexual abuse material
The dissemination of online child sexual abuse material has seen a rapid rise in recent years. Combating this phenomenon poses an ever-increasing challenge. Due to the ongoing digitisation of society, intensive and international cooperation is necessary. In this light, the EU ministers agreed to take robust measures against child abuse and online child sexual abuse material during the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council today.
'While no one would deny that the dissemination of online child sexual abuse material is a problem, insufficient priority is still given to this grave concern, which continues to expand. Fortunately, the European Union is drawing a line today and EU ministers are joining forces against online child sexual abuse.'
said Ferdinand Grapperhaus, Minister of Justice and Security.
The joint Council conclusions underline the importance of exploring other avenues in addition to criminal prosecution. This way, the Dutch multi-track approach will be taken up at the European level.
'We should not focus exclusively on criminal law, as online child sexual abuse can be tackled through prevention and close cooperation with companies as well. Another important measure is a system of fines for providers neglecting to remove the child sexual abuse material straight away.'
Today, the JHA ministers highlighted the value of public-private partnerships as well as the role and responsibility of Internet providers. There needs to be more intensive and comprehensive cooperation between the current European organisations Eurojust and Europol and national investigative services. The ministers also called on the European Commission and the Member States to review their approach to child abuse as well as online child sexual abuse material at regular intervals.
'Internet providers and social media platforms play a key role in combating the dissemination of child sexual abuse material. I again emphasised during the Internet Forum how important it is that these parties remove online child sexual abuse material as quickly as possible. Previously, companies agreed to delete these horrible images from their servers within 24 hours of a notification. It is imperative that we deal with malicious and negligent Internet companies through both criminal and administrative law.'
Grapperhaus already discussed the issue with his fellow ministers of Justice from France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Belgium and Luxembourg during an informal meeting in The Hague last week. He also attended the fifth EU Internet Forum yesterday afternoon, which was hosted by the European Commission and which invited extensive debate on combating the dissemination of online child sexual abuse material as well as on public-private partnerships. Grapperhaus was joined not only by several fellow JHA ministers from the EU, but also by companies such as Microsoft, Facebook, Google and Twitter.