Lawmakers in the European Union could soon force social media platforms to do more to combat child pornography.
In the coming months, politicians are poised to introduce stricter regulations to replace temporary legislation allowing for the voluntary reporting of child sexual abuse material (CSAM), or child pornography, as it’s more commonly called, according to Euronews.
“I will propose legislation in the coming months that will require companies to detect, report, and remove child sexual abuse [content],” EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson told Welt am Sonntag, a German newspaper. “A voluntary report will then no longer be sufficient.”
Current legislation allows social media brands — like Facebook and Instagram parent company Meta — to decide whether to follow up on users suspected of possessing CSAM. Some platforms, though, stopped reporting the potentially illegal content over fears of running afoul of privacy laws.
Apple, for example, quietly quashed its own plans to periodically scan users’ iCloud photo libraries for CSAM. When the tech company first announced the scanning apparatus, it was widely condemned as bordering on surveillance and potentially ineffective at accurately deciphering whether content truly was illegal material. The feature was removed from the brand’s child safety plans in December.
So moving forward, legislators and the private sector will have to determine how to monitor for CSAM while at the same time steering clear of privacy violations.
“As with any crime, the fight against online CSAM needs to be tackled in a way that is proportionate and lawful, meaning that interventions should be targeted against individuals or servers where there is reasonable suspicion,” European Digital Rights policy adviser Ella Jakubowska told TNW. “In contrast, the EU’s strategy seems to be to cast a dangerously wide net, proposing measures which might force service providers to scan each and every person’s private messages.”
News of greater regulation among EU member states comes on the heels of France announcing in late December it would block five of the world’s leading pornography websites unless each site implemented protective measures to duly verify all visitors are at least 18 years old.
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