MEP Javier Zarzalejos presented on April 26th at the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs of the European Parliament the report on the legislative proposal of the European Commission for the prevention and fight against child sexual abuse, for which he is the main rapporteur in the European Parliament.

Zarzalejos underlined that “the scale of the problem requires taking measures that are up to the task, since today Europe is the continent that hosts the most child sexual abuse material on its servers”.

The MEP shared the need to move from the current system of voluntary detection to a mandatory one, in which online service providers have to assess the risks to which the services they offer are subject and take concrete measures to prevent their platforms from being used for the dissemination of child sexual abuse content.

“If these mitigation measures are not sufficient in the eyes of the competent national authorities, a judge may require providers to use available technologies for the detection, reporting and removal of child sexual abuse content with a detection order,” he explained. This screening order proposed by the report is time-limited and specific to the service or part of the service that may be affected.

“This mechanism constitutes the fundamental guarantee to ensure that the regulation respects the principle of the legislation prohibiting the imposition of a general obligation to monitor the data stored by providers or a general obligation to carry out active searches for facts or circumstances that indicate illicit activities,” Zarzalejos said.

Order of detection for three types of abuse material

The rapporteur’s proposal, therefore, provides for detection orders and does so for the three types of child sexual abuse material that exist: known, new and, therefore, pending confirmation as child abuse material, and grooming.

In summary, the rapporteur’s report contains three important novelties. On the one hand, it intensifies the prevention mechanisms that providers can put into practice; on the other hand, it reinforces the guarantees and safeguards of fundamental rights within the strict respect of the European Union’s data protection framework; and finally, it gives a voice to the victims or survivors of sexual abuse.

Thus, Zarzalejos proposed the creation of a Victims’ Consultative Forum to serve as a space for listening to victims and the organizations that represent them and for the new European Union Center for Preventing and Combating Sexual Abuse to take into account their contributions when carrying out its attributions.

In the opinion of the MEP “all these challenges arising from the development and progress of new technologies can only be addressed from the technology itself. It is therefore necessary to continue innovating and developing ever more precise technologies to help fight against this scourge”.