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Parliament calls for crackdown on child sexual abuse and illegal online images


Parliament calls for further efforts to investigate online child sexual abuse, prosecute offenders, protect child victims and remove illegal online content, in a resolution voted on Wednesday. The ongoing EU data protection reform also includes changes to better protect the rights of children online, MEPs stress. More than 80 % of the victims are under 10 years old.

To combat the sexual exploitation of children and child abuse images, a comprehensive approach is needed, embracing the investigation of offences, the prosecution of offenders, the protection of child victims and preventive measures. The resolution was approved by 606 votes in favour, 4 against and 67 abstentions. Parliament’s call for action says that:

- any illicit content must be promptly removed and reported to law enforcement authorities. MEPs highlight the role of the ICT (information and communications technology) industry, internet service providers and internet host providers in ensuring fast and efficient removal "at the request of the responsible law enforcement authority"

- Europol and national law enforcement authorities should be given the necessary funds, human resources, investigative powers and technical capabilities to “seriously and effectively pursue, investigate and prosecute the offenders”

- new high-tech capabilities should be developed to meet the challenges of analysing vast amounts of child abuse imagery, including material hidden on the “dark web”

- Children’s online personal data must be duly protected, and they should be informed in an easy and child-friendly way of the risks and consequences of using their data online. MEPs underline that ongoing data protection reform includes important changes to better protect the rights of children online

- awareness-raising campaigns on responsible behaviour on social media and online sexual abuse prevention programmes should be set up to empower children and support parents and educators in understanding and handling online risks. Hotlines should also be developed to enable children to denounce abuse anonymously

- EU countries that have not yet transposed the 2011 directive on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography into their national laws are urged to do so (also, the resolution states that over half of the EU member states have yet to fully implement the directive)

An international problem needs an international solution

Increased international cooperation and transnational investigations are needed, since these types of crimes span hundreds of countries with different legal jurisdictions and law enforcement agencies. MEPs welcome the joint initiative by the EU and 55 countries to form the Global Alliance against Child Sexual Abuse Online.

This aims to rescue more victims, ensure more effective prosecution, raise awareness and achieve an overall reduction in the amount of child sexual abuse material available online.

Adopted text will be available here (click on 11.03.2015)
Video recording of debate (click on 12.02.2015)
Press release - Child sex crimes: Parliament backs tougher penalties and EU-wide deletion of porn web pages (27.10.2011)
2011 directive on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography