Procedure : 2015/2564(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B8-0217/2015

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See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B8-0217/2015

to wind up the debate on the statement by the Commission

pursuant to Rule 123(2) of the Rules of Procedure

on fighting child sexual abuse on the internet (2015/2564(RSP))

Roberta Metsola, Monika Hohlmeier, Tadeusz Zwiefka, Elissavet Vozemberg, Michał Boni, Jeroen Lenaers, Anna Maria Corazza Bildt, Kinga Gál, Traian Ungureanu, József Nagy, Lara Comi, Theodoros Zagorakis, Maria Spyraki, Barbara Matera, Alessandra Mussolini, Emil Radev on behalf of the PPE Group

B8‑0217/2015/rev. European Parliament resolution on fighting child sexual abuse on the internet (2015/2564(RSP))  

The European Parliament,

–       having regard to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, of 20 November 1989, and the protocols thereto,

–       having regard to Article 3 of the Treaty on European Union,

–       having regard to Article 24 of the Charter on Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

–       having regard to the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime, of 23 November 2001,

–       having regard to the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, of 25 October 2007,

–       having regard to the EU Guidelines for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Child,

–       having regard to Directive 2011/92/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 December 2011 on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2004/68/JHA,

–       having regard to its resolution of 27 November 2014 on the 25th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child(1),

–       having regard to the Europol report of 2014 on the Internet Organised Crime Threat Assessment (iOACTA),

–       having regard to its plenary debate of 12 February 2015 on the fight against child sexual abuse on the internet,

–       having regard to Rule 123(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.     whereas children are the most vulnerable group in our societies and special attention should be paid to them by lawmakers in order to protect them;

B.     whereas sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children constitute serious violations of fundamental rights, and a comprehensive approach is therefore required covering the prosecution of offenders, the protection of child victims and prevention of the phenomenon;

C.     whereas particular attention should be paid to the proper use of terminology related to child sexual exploitation in public disclosure;

D.     whereas due to its international nature, child sexual exploitation and child sexual abuse online, including the proliferation of child sexual exploitation material on the Internet and cyber predation, continue to be a major concern for law enforcement authorities, with offences ranging from sexual extortion and grooming to self-produced child abuse material and live streaming of child abuse, and to pose particular investigative challenges because the development of technological innovations provides easier and faster access to the material for the offenders, including cyber predators;

E.     whereas, to a greater extent than other criminality, most areas of child sexual exploitation and abuse suffer from chronic under-reporting by victims and often inconsistent recording in the criminal justice process; whereas precise identification of the extent of abuse and of the numbers of both victims and offenders in the EU is therefore problematic;

F.     whereas precise data on cases of child sexual exploitation and abuse online are absent, incomplete or concealed in other categories of abuse or crime, or go unreported;

G.     whereas in the online environment sexual exploitation may take various forms, with young people being persuaded, or forced, to send or post sexually explicit images of themselves, take part in sexual activities via a webcam or smartphone, or have sexual conversations by text or online, resulting in abusers and cyber predators being able to threaten to send images, video or copies of conversations to the young person’s friends and family unless they take part in further sexual activity; whereas images and/or videos may continue to be shared long after the sexual abuse has stopped and remain freely available for anyone to view online, thus maintaining a constant risk of the victims beings re-victimised and stigmatised;

H.     whereas NGOs raise concerns over the development of online grooming, phenomena described as adults using social media sites, instant messaging applications including teen dating applications, or online gaming platforms to connect with a young person or child and thus build up a relationship with the child in order to abuse him/her;

I.      whereas according to information provided by Internet Watch Foundation concerning web pages containing child abuse material, more than 80 % of the victims are aged younger than 10; whereas data from the international Association of Internet Hotlines show an increase in infant victims of sexual abuse and in abuse of an extreme and sadistic nature;

J.      whereas a particularly violent and worrying trend of live streaming of child abuse, in particular of streaming of abuse of children overseas, live in front of a camera at the request of westerners, has been observed and is reported to be a probable growth area;

K.     whereas concerns must be raised over human traffickers using children without legal identity who are ‘invisible’ to the authorities for sexual abuse online;

L.     whereas the internet and wider information and communications technology are now firmly embedded within the everyday lives of children in the EU and feature particularly prominently in their entertainment, education and social lives; whereas children in the EU are now more exposed to the risk of being accessible to offenders online, with 91 % living in a household with access to the internet; whereas the number of hours 12 to 15-year-olds spend online each week has risen from 14.9 in 2011 to 17.1 in 2012, an increase of almost 15 %;

M.    whereas the internet also offers children the opportunity for a separate identity using which they can be whoever they wish and take risks they would never countenance offline, which increases the impact of any exploitation they may suffer from offenders using the existence of a delineated and seemingly anonymous online environment to hide their identity online by pretending to be a child and then chat and become ‘friends’ with children they are targeting;

N.     whereas a large number of offenders are using the Darknet, where they have established anonymous communities using hidden forums, website services, social networking platforms and storage providers dedicated to child abuse material, thereby enabling and facilitating practically untraceable sexual exploitation of children; whereas many of them use encryption, virtual currencies and other defensive measures to secure their activities, posing a serious challenge to law enforcement investigations;

O.     whereas Directive 2011/92/EC on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography was due to be transposed by Member States by 18 December 2013, and whereas to date less than half of the Member States have fully implemented it;

1.      Considers that protecting and ensuring a safe environment for children is one of the primary objectives of the European Union and its Member States;

2.      Considers that children’s personal data online must be duly protected and that children need to be informed in an easy and child-friendly way of the risks and consequences of using their personal data online; stresses that online profiling of children should be prohibited; considers that all children should have the right to enjoy a healthy and safe online environment and access to the internet;

3.      Believes that it would be appropriate to stop the use of the misleading term ‘child pornography’ to describe or refer to images of sexual abuse of children, and use the appropriate term, ‘child sexual abuse material’, instead;

4.      Calls on the Commission and the Member States to foster and strengthen the resources dedicated to victim identification and victim-centred services, and to call for the urgent setting-up of related platforms and the strengthening of that existing within Europol; stresses, furthermore, the urgent need to improve assistance to abused children through personalised recovery and reintegration programmes; calls on the Member States to implement Directive 2012/29/EU on establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime;

5.      Considers that further steps must be taken to combat cyber grooming, and that Commission, together with Member States and civil society including teachers and youth and children’s organisations, must play an active role in raising awareness on this issue through defined guidelines, exchange of best practices and creation of social platforms for cooperation and exchange of information on the matter;

6.      Strongly deplores the fact that many Member States have not yet transposed Directive 2011/92/EU on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography; consequently, calls on the Commission to strictly monitor its full and effective implementation, to report back on its findings to Parliament, and in particular to the committee responsible, in a timely manner, and to take any appropriate measures against Member States that are in infringement; commits itself to drafting an implementation report on this piece of legislation for follow-up;

7.      Urges the Commission to strengthen legal capacity, technical capabilities and financial resources in order to boost cooperation of law enforcement authorities, including with Europol as well as with Eurojust, with a view to investigating and dismantling child sex offender networks more effectively, while prioritising the rights and safety of the children involved; to that end, further stresses the need to strengthen and broaden the action of specialised centres such as Europol’s Cybercrime Centre so as to foster their valuable work in mapping the threats and trends of the horrific crime of online child sexual exploitation and abuse;

8.      Calls on the Member States to provide their law enforcement authorities with the necessary funds, human resources, investigative powers and technical capabilities to seriously and effectively tackle and prosecute the offenders, including appropriate training to build capacity in the judiciary and police units; similarly urges the Commission to take all appropriate measures to ensure harmonised investigation capabilities and minimum standards for prosecution among Member States, so as to effectively pursue these crimes as foreseen by Directive 2011/92/EC;

9.      Stresses the need to improve international cooperation and transnational investigations in this area, through cooperation agreements and by facilitating international data exchange on these crimes and offenders, including through Europol; welcomes, in this regard, the joint initiative by the EU and 55 countries from around the world gathered in the Global Alliance against Child Sexual Abuse Online, aimed at rescuing more victims, ensuring more effective prosecution, increasing awareness and achieving an overall reduction in the amount of child sexual abuse images available online; invites the Commission to report more regularly on the progress made through this Alliance;

10.    Calls for an effective partnership approach and information exchange between law enforcement agencies, judicial authorities, the ICT industry, Internet Service Providers (ISPs), the banking sector and non-governmental organisations, including youth and children’s organisations, to ensure that the rights and the protection of children online are safeguarded and that illicit content is promptly removed and reported to law enforcement authorities where appropriate; welcomes, in this regard, the CEO coalition for making the internet a better place for kids, as well as the work of the European Financial Coalition against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Online (EFC);

11.    Calls on the Commission and the Member States to take appropriate measures to improve and enhance children’s reporting of abuse, and to consider setting up systematic reporting mechanisms such as ‘panic button’ applications on computers and mobile devices, in full cooperation with the relevant industries and private companies; supports the development of hotlines for children where they can denounce abuse anonymously;

12.    Considers that law enforcement authorities must acquire the technical expertise and investigatory prowess enabling them to develop new high-tech capabilities to address the challenges of analysing the vast amounts of child abuse imagery or material encrypted or hidden on the ‘dark web’ and to trace and prosecute the offenders subject to a judicial warrant, focusing on the most prolific offenders presenting an imminent danger to the integrity of a child;

13.    Calls on the Commission to launch a commensurate awareness campaign involving all relevant actors to empower children and support parents and educators in understanding and handling online risks and protecting children’s safety online, to support Member States setting up online sexual abuse prevention programmes, to promote awareness- raising campaigns for responsible behaviour in social media, and to encourage major search engines and social media networks to take a proactive approach in protecting child safety online;

14.    Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission, the Council and the parliaments of the Member States.


Texts adopted, P8_TA(2014)0070.

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