Skip to main content

If only my CSAM could be ‘untagged’ on the internet like a not so perfect picture on social media. Images of my abuse are circulating the internet. Images that were taken without my permission and posted online invading my privacy and safety.

— Survivor of child sexual abuse material

European Legal Battle:
The imminent threat to children

Auch auf Deutsch

Technology that can help protect children from online exploitation will be illegal to use on messaging platforms in the European Union (EU) unless a temporary derogation is passed. Without this temporary law there will be enormous consequences for survivors whose child sexual abuse has been recorded and shared online, and children, not just in the EU but around the world, will be left unprotected.

What is the issue

On December 21, 2020, it will become illegal for messaging platforms operating within the EU to use automated proactive tools, such as Microsoft PhotoDNA, to try to identify known images or videos of child sexual abuse, detect grooming behaviour targeting children, or use artificial intelligence to proactively detect images or videos that likely contain child sexual abuse so the content can be reviewed and removed by moderators.

The European Commission has put forward a temporary derogation that ensures the continued use of existing detection tools until 2025. However, the lack of agreement and concerns over privacy and data protection in the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice & Home Affairs (LIBE) Committee may delay the decision until next year.

What is at risk

From our work with survivors of child sexual abuse material, the continued availability and distribution of this horrific content means their trauma is never truly over, and this knowledge colours every aspect of their lives. These detection tools have enabled the identification and subsequent removal of millions of child sexual abuse image and videos from the internet — breaking the cycle of abuse.

The proliferation of child sexual abuse material online is a global epidemic, and if companies are not able to legally operate these tools on messaging platforms in the EU, there is also a risk that they will cease to use them elsewhere.

Why do I, a victim, not have any rights to protect myself? Why can’t my abusive material be automatically detected on messaging platforms? I’d like someone to explain or to admit accountability why they feel it’s okay for me to be victimized over and over again because they can’t, or won’t, use tools that will remove the capturing of my abuse. The technology is out there, use it — or explain why you can’t.

— Survivor of child sexual abuse material

Get involved

The Canadian Centre is asking every Member of the European Parliament, including the members of the LIBE Committee, to heed the call and take action now. However, it is equally as important the public holds their Members of Parliament accountable.

The following documents underscore why a temporary derogation is urgently needed, and are available to share with those who are in a position to make change:

Read John Carr’s, Secretary of the Children’s Charities’ Coalition on Internet Safety, brief about what needs to be done to improve the digital environment for children.

It is your job to protect the citizens of your countries. I urge you to uphold the rights of children to live a life of happiness, without abuse, and without their abuse being spread over the internet. We have the knowledge and expertise to work together to make this happen, we cannot let our fears of privacy erosion put our children at risk.

— Survivor of child sexual abuse material

Stand together

Child sexual abuse material is a global issue, and the Canadian Centre is proud to stand alongside international allies who support the EU derogation and advocate for the rights and protection of children to come first:

The tools used to scan platforms for CSAM give us survivors such profound hope that one day we may be out of the spotlight. Without these tools we will never know closure because the abuse just never ends. I am a huge advocate for rights and privacy online, but urge you not to protect the rights and privacy of offenders over the rights and privacy of their victims. Please do not diminish what little light we have on the horizon.

— Survivor of child sexual abuse material

Supporting survivors

Learn more about how the Canadian Centre supports survivors of child sexual abuse material through specialized resources, advocacy, and research.

Support our work. Donate today.

Be a part of something big. As a registered charitable organization, we rely on donations to help us offer our programs and services to the public. You can support us in helping families and protecting children.

Donate Now