Worldwide newsMay 11, 2022New draft EU rules: the difficult balance between online child protection and privacy

The European Commission has proposed a new legislation to prevent and combat child sexual abuse online. The proposed rules will oblige providers to detect, report and remove child sexual abuse material on their services. The press release from the Commission reads that “providers will need to assess and mitigate the risk of misuse of their services and the measures taken must be proportionate to that risk and subject to robust conditions and safeguards. A new independent EU Centre on Child Sexual Abuse (EU Centre) will facilitate the efforts of service providers by acting as a hub of expertise, providing reliable information on identified material, receiving and analysing reports from providers to identify erroneous reports and prevent them from reaching law enforcement, swiftly forwarding relevant reports for law enforcement action and by providing support to victims”. If adopted, the legislation might require social media chat apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger to selectively scan users’ private messages for child sexual abuse material and behaviour. The proposal has sparked criticism among the privacy expert community, some of whom believe that the rules would allow exccessively intrusive powers.