Child sexual abuse online: MEPs endorse one-off extension of current rules 

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  • Aim is to avoid a legal vacuum when current exemption expires in August 2024 
  • MEPs recall the importance of adopting permanent rules that include prevention measures 

MEPs have adopted a draft position to extend the exemption to EU e-Privacy rules until May 2025 to allow the detection of Child Sexual Abuse Material online.

On Wednesday, the Civil Liberties Committee endorsed a draft Parliament position on extending temporary rules to allow for the detection of Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) online in derogation of EU legislation on the respect of privacy online. This would prevent a legal vacuum when the derogation expires in August 2024. The draft position was adopted with 43 votes in favour, 19 against, and 4 abstaining.

MEPs propose extending the current rules until 3 May 2025 and emphasise that they cannot be extended any further. They point out the importance of adopting permanent rules on CSAM that include prevention measures, which is why this extension should be a one-off solution.


Quote


Rapporteur Birgit Sippel (S&D, Germany) said: “The result of the vote is very clear: with a broad majority, we have adopted a tight deadline for the expiration of the interim regulation to put pressure on Council to adopt a position on the permanent regulation. Furthermore, we deleted the definition of grooming and have made the reporting obligations for providers more stringent.”


Next steps


Inter-institutional negotiations were authorised with 49 votes in favour, 17 against, and 1 abstaining. In February, the draft position will be announced at a plenary session of the European Parliament. Once it has been endorsed by the full house, negotiations can begin, as the Council has already adopted its position.


Background


To replace the interim derogation allowing for CSAM detection, the Commission proposed a permanent regulation on combatting online child sexual abuse in May 2022.

The European Parliament adopted its position on the proposal in November 2023, but since the Council of the EU has not yet adopted a General Approach, interinstitutional negotiations on the proposal have not yet started, and will not be completed by the time the current rules expire in August 2024.