EU plans law forcing tech companies to do more to tackle child abuse

EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson gives a press conference following the EU High Level Forum on Protecting Afghans at Risk, at the European Commission, in Brussels, Belgium, October 7, 2021. Stephanie Lecocq / Pool via REUTERS / File photo

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FRANKFURT, Jan.9 (Reuters) – The European Union plans to legislate in the coming months to force tech companies to do more to tackle child sexual abuse, by strengthening current voluntary agreements, a senior official said in an interview with a newspaper.

EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson told Welt am Sonntag in Germany that internet service providers and social media companies reported 22 million child sexual abuse offenses in 2020, up from 17 million in 2019.

But she said it was only a fraction of the actual number.

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“I will be proposing legislation in the coming months that will oblige companies to detect, report and remove child sexual abuse,” Johansson said.

“A voluntary report will then no longer be sufficient.”

Under current EU rules, social media networks and mail and messaging services such as Facebook (FB.O) and Google (GOOGL.O) have the choice of whether or not to track infringements.

Johansson said the fight against child abuse should be better coordinated and that a specialized European center was needed to improve prevention, law enforcement and victim support.

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Reporting by Vera Eckert Editing by Mark Potter

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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