December 4, 2020

STATEMENT – Children May Be Put At Risk by EU Parliament Privacy Pursuit, Says ICOSE 

Cambridge, England (December 4, 2020) – The International Centre on Sexual Exploitation (ICOSE), a division of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, is calling on the European Union Parliament to amend the e-Privacy Directive because as it currently stands it would effectively halt companies’ ability to identify and remove child sexual abuse material (child pornography) and grooming online, starting December 21.

The EU is recklessly endangering children amid worldwide rising cases of child sexual abuse material (child pornography) and online grooming due to COVID. While privacy is an important principle, it cannot be pursued in a manner that makes it impossible for companies to intervene in child sexual abuse materials (CSAM) and online grooming—which is what the e-Privacy Directive currently does. Early reports of the amendment language to be voted on Monday by a committee only allows scanning for CSAM for specific accounts after concrete elements of suspicion have been identified. This, and the other conditions, are prohibitive and will essentially make it impossible to use proactive technology to remove CSAM or grooming,” said Haley McNamara, Director of the International Centre on Sexual Exploitation. 

  • CSAM has surged over 106% during COVID, according to the National Center on Missing and Exploited Children. 
  • Online grooming of children for sexual abuse can take less than 20 minutes according to researchers.

  • Focus groups held by contacts of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation with youth ages 16-18 all report that they have been solicited for sex and sent nude images online by strangers.  

For the EU to take away proactive tools to combat child sexual exploitation and abuse online at this time is the height of social irresponsibility, they must correct their mistake immediately,” McNamara stated.

“We applaud the National Center on Missing and Exploited Children for its leadership in addressing this urgent matter with the EU and urge everyone to sign its petition.

“If the EU doesn’t stop this law, the impact will be felt not just in the EU, but also around the world. Child exploitation has no borders and must be confronted with every possible tool,” McNamara concluded. 

About the International Centre on Sexual Exploitation (ICOSE)
Utilizing cutting edge tactics for private and public policy advocacy and building on a decade of coalition-building experience, the International Centre on Sexual Exploitation (ICOSE) works to bolster the global abolitionist movement. ICOSE is a UK-based division of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE). 

About National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE)
Founded in 1962, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) is the leading national non-partisan organization exposing the links between all forms of sexual exploitation such as child sexual abuse, prostitution, sex trafficking and the public health harms of pornography. 

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